How to Call an Ambulance

Calling an ambulance is something nearly of us will have to do during our lifetime, whether it be for a friend, relative or stranger on the street. Often, the emergency situation is very stressful which makes even a simple phone call challenging. However stressful the situation, the key is to try and remain calm. This will enable you to give accurate clear information to the operator to ensure you receive the required help as soon as possible. Below are some additional tips worth knowing in the event you need to make that call.

1) Know the correct number! It may sound silly but whilst you may know the number for your country, if you go abroad make sure you find out the correct number to contact the emergency services. In Europe, you can use 112 to contact the emergency services, even in the UK (999 and 112 can be used interchangeably here but 999 is most commonly used). In the United States and Canada the number is 911. For a list of countries and numbers check out this wikipedia page.

When you dial the number you’ll be put through to an operator who will ask which emergency service you require. If you know already that due to the nature of the situation you may require additional services i.e. a road traffic collision will not only require an ambulance but also the police and even fire and rescue, inform the operator. If unsure request ambulance (for your casualty/ies) and you can explain the situation further once transferred to the ambulance dispatch operator who can request back up from other services at any point during the call.

2) Know where you are. The ambulance service will need quite detailed information (ie, road name and town) in order to pinpoint your exact location. This isn’t always easy, especially if you are in a remote or unfamiliar area. If you don’t know where you are, then try to describe your location (using landmarks, last junction etc.). Some motorways have driver location signs. If you are in a remote area then a grid reference may also be useful. They will also ask for your contact number should the call be cut off due to poor signal or incase they need to ring back.

3) Give a concise description of what has happened (high speed road accident, car has hit a lamppost) including details of casualties (one casualty, unconscious but breathing) and any other relevant information such as dangers & hazards as these may require other emergency services.

4) Speak slowly and clearly. Follow any instructions the call taker gives you. Some may offer simple first aid advice over the phone.

5) Don’t hang up until asked to. In some cases the operator will stay on the line until the ambulance arrives.

Remember, calls to the emergency services are normally free so you don’t require any credit. In addition, many mobile phones allow you to make an emergency phone call without a sim card or even when the keypad has been locked.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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