11 October 2011

Call an ambulance

When should you call an ambulance and when should you phone a friend to take you to the hospital?


An ambulance is not always the fastest way to reach a hospital. A private car may be a better option. 

If a long wait is likely, it would be better to go to the hospital yourself if it is close by, but let someone phone the emergency department ahead.

In case of poisoning, contact the poison control centre immediately as emergency steps need to be taken before leaving for the hospital.

Call an ambulance if:

  • You don't know what to do or are uncertain of the severity of the injury
  • Someone is unconscious or struggles to breathe
  • You suspect a back or neck injury
  • Someone may be having a heart attack
  • A person is seriously injured
  • A small child is injured unless you have another adult with you who could drive
  • There is serious bleeding that you cannot stop

When you call an ambulance, state clearly:

  • The site of the emergency (include names of cross streets, if possible)
  • What happened to the victim and the victim’s condition
  • The number of the people injured
  • The age of the victim
  • Your name and contact telephone number
  • Any first aid currently being given

Do not hang up until the operator tells you to. This way you'll be sure that you have given all the necessary information.

Going to hospital

  • Phone the emergency department ahead to alert them that you are coming.
  • If possible, get another adult to travel with you.
  • Support any injured limbs.
  • If the person is bleeding, take sufficient bandages or clean cotton fabric with you.
  • Make the person as comfortable as possible.
  • Take any medication that the person uses with you to hospital.

(Health24, updated October 2011)


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