How to call an ambulance

When should I call an ambulance?

Here’s when to call an ambulance, according to guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians:

  • The person’s condition appears life-threatening
  • The person’s condition could worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the hospital
  • Moving the person could cause further harm or injury
  • The person needs the skills or equipment used by paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMT)
  • Driving would cause significant delay in getting to the hospital

Call 911 if you think you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency.

Main Line Health has four acute care hospitals with emergency departments in the western suburbs of Philadelphia:

Lankenau Medical Center and Paoli Hospital are level II trauma centers equipped to handle injuries that are potentially life-threatening such as falls, automobile accidents and sports injuries.

How to determine if a condition is life-threatening

Deciding whether or not to call an ambulance is a decision you’ll have to make based on your best assessment of the situation. Even if you think you can get to the hospital faster in your own vehicle, please remember that the ambulance is equipped to start emergency care as soon as it arrives.

Here are some examples of life-threatening conditions requiring an ambulance. The person:

  • Appears to be having a stroke (think F-A-S-T: Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911)
  • Appears to be having a heart attack
  • Has lost consciousness, is unresponsive, or is not responding appropriately
  • Is having a seizure
  • Is having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Is bleeding uncontrollably
  • Is having a severe allergic reaction
  • Has severe burns
  • Has swallowed something poisonous
  • Has thoughts of harming themselves or others
  • Has taken too much medication on purpose or by accident, including drug misuse or abuse

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to call an ambulance, it’s better to call and have it come. In this region, an ambulance usually arrives within about 10 minutes.

How to call an ambulance

The number to call for an ambulance in the United States is call 911. When calling for an ambulance, do your best to remain calm and speak clearly. Be prepared to:

  • Provide the name of the person having the emergency and what the problem seems to be
  • Share the location information and specific address, if possible
  • Tell the dispatcher where the person is located, such as in the back yard or in the downstairs bedroom
  • Provide the phone number you’re calling from
  • Stay on the phone with the dispatcher in case the dispatcher needs more information

If you witness or are part of a highway emergency, do your best to make note of highway marker numbers or exit signs. Also determine which lane and in which direction the accident occurred so you can communicate as clearly as possible with the dispatcher.

What to expect when you call an ambulance

The EMTs and paramedics are able to provide certain kinds of care on the scene and while in transport, which can help save a person’s life or minimize pain and suffering. The ambulance will go to the nearest appropriate emergency room based on the level of care needed and the availability of anticipated resources, such as specialized stroke, trauma, or pediatric care. Once at the hospital, the ER staff will determine which patients get seen first. Just because you arrive in an ambulance doesn’t necessarily mean you get first priority. You will be seen based on level of need.

Cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital

How much you have to pay depends on your health insurance coverage and any deductible you might have. If you have to take an ambulance to the hospital, you will be billed at a later time by the ambulance company. Check with your insurance provider for more information about the cost of ambulance transport. Above all, do not delay calling for an ambulance when you think one is needed.

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How to call an ambulance

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How to call an ambulance

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How to call an ambulance

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When should I call an ambulance?

Here’s when to call an ambulance, according to guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians:

  • The person’s condition appears life-threatening
  • The person’s condition could worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the hospital
  • Moving the person could cause further harm or injury
  • The person needs the skills or equipment used by paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMT)
  • Driving would cause significant delay in getting to the hospital

Call 911 if you think you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency.

Main Line Health has four acute care hospitals with emergency departments in the western suburbs of Philadelphia:

Lankenau Medical Center and Paoli Hospital are level II trauma centers equipped to handle injuries that are potentially life-threatening such as falls, automobile accidents and sports injuries.

How to determine if a condition is life-threatening

Deciding whether or not to call an ambulance is a decision you’ll have to make based on your best assessment of the situation. Even if you think you can get to the hospital faster in your own vehicle, please remember that the ambulance is equipped to start emergency care as soon as it arrives.

Here are some examples of life-threatening conditions requiring an ambulance. The person:

  • Appears to be having a stroke (think F-A-S-T: Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911)
  • Appears to be having a heart attack
  • Has lost consciousness, is unresponsive, or is not responding appropriately
  • Is having a seizure
  • Is having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Is bleeding uncontrollably
  • Is having a severe allergic reaction
  • Has severe burns
  • Has swallowed something poisonous
  • Has thoughts of harming themselves or others
  • Has taken too much medication on purpose or by accident, including drug misuse or abuse

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to call an ambulance, it’s better to call and have it come. In this region, an ambulance usually arrives within about 10 minutes.

How to call an ambulance

The number to call for an ambulance in the United States is call 911. When calling for an ambulance, do your best to remain calm and speak clearly. Be prepared to:

  • Provide the name of the person having the emergency and what the problem seems to be
  • Share the location information and specific address, if possible
  • Tell the dispatcher where the person is located, such as in the back yard or in the downstairs bedroom
  • Provide the phone number you’re calling from
  • Stay on the phone with the dispatcher in case the dispatcher needs more information

If you witness or are part of a highway emergency, do your best to make note of highway marker numbers or exit signs. Also determine which lane and in which direction the accident occurred so you can communicate as clearly as possible with the dispatcher.

What to expect when you call an ambulance

The EMTs and paramedics are able to provide certain kinds of care on the scene and while in transport, which can help save a person’s life or minimize pain and suffering. The ambulance will go to the nearest appropriate emergency room based on the level of care needed and the availability of anticipated resources, such as specialized stroke, trauma, or pediatric care. Once at the hospital, the ER staff will determine which patients get seen first. Just because you arrive in an ambulance doesn’t necessarily mean you get first priority. You will be seen based on level of need.

Cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital

How much you have to pay depends on your health insurance coverage and any deductible you might have. If you have to take an ambulance to the hospital, you will be billed at a later time by the ambulance company. Check with your insurance provider for more information about the cost of ambulance transport. Above all, do not delay calling for an ambulance when you think one is needed.

It seems simple. Dial 999, give your address and wait for the ambulance. But calling for an ambulance can be a stressful experience, especially if someone you know is injured.

Let’s hope you never have to dial those three digits. But if you do, remember these simple things:

Try to speak clearly

Remember the operator can’t see the situation. They are relying solely on what you tell them, speaking clearly and explaining the situation will help them greatly. Try and give clear and concise answers to the questions they ask.

Know the location

While calls from landlines and public phone boxes can normally be traced by the ambulance service, calls from mobile phones cannot be pinpointed. Try and give the exact location using landmarks and local knowledge if you can.

Following on from this, if possible then always send someone to flag down and meet the ambulance.

Answer questions as best you can

The operator will ask you for your telephone number. This is so that if the line is disconnected they can call you back. They will also ask you for your address and the nature of the emergency.

Then, they’ll have a few questions about the person, such as “Are they responsive?” and “Are they breathing?”. It’s important that you answer as well as you can. If you don’t know the answer, then say so. Answering these questions will not delay the ambulance.

Unlike the films, 999 calls can take time. Be patient with the operator – they are trying their best to help you.

The questions they ask are important as they help the operator assess the severity of the call and send the right level of emergency help.

Follow the instructions

The operator is trained to give simple first aid instructions over the phone (such as how to help someone who is unresponsive and not breathing). Even if you haven’t done any first aid training you can still follow these instructions to help the person. Remember, it’s far better to do something than nothing.

Stay with the person

Always stay with the person in case their condition changes (for example, they stop breathing or become unresponsive). If this happens it’s important that you call 999 again and update the operator.

Staying calm and understanding how to call for help in an emergency situation can save lives.

Knowing basic first aid can save lives. It can also take some time for ambulances to reach critically ill patients, especially in heavy traffic or poor weather conditions. In these situations, knowing lifesaving skills could make all the difference.

  • Download our free first aid app and have everyday first aid advice at your fingertips
  • Find out how to book a Red Cross first aid course near you, and boost your confidence to help in an emergency.

by John Furst · Published May 20, 2011 · Updated August 22, 2018

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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.

How to call an ambulance

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 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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How to call an ambulance

If you ever find yourself in an emergency or as a witness to an emergency, it’s very important to know how you can contact emergency services, whether you are in need of police, fire, or ambulatory services. In this article, we will be discussing ambulatory services — when you may need an ambulance, as well as how to make the call, and what information you may need to provide.

When should you call an ambulance?

An ambulance should be called in a serious or life-threatening emergency only. If the person in question is not breathing, is not responsive, is not moving, is losing a lot of blood, or is experiencing symptoms of a serious nature, an ambulance should always be called. Often, your instinct could be the best decision. Since it is best to be safe, if you are unsure, it may be a good idea to contact emergency services and explain the situation. If you think an ambulance may be needed, you should place the call to emergency services immediately. You may be able to provide some care for the affected person while you are on the phone with emergency services, but help should be requested right away.

How do you call an ambulance?

In many countries, there is a special telephone number for emergency services, including police, fire, and ambulance. This number may be different depending on the country you are in. Some countries may not have a national number and use only local numbers. It is important to have this information on hand in case it is needed.

An ambulance provides transport to a hospital and enables emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to begin medical treatment on arrival, extending treatment through the ride to the medical center. It is important to remember that the rescue squad is not the only option if you require treatment and need to get to an emergency department.

There are times when you may not want to call an ambulance and find a different way to get to the hospital. When in doubt, call 911.

In many cases, treatment need not be immediate. Some areas have non-emergent transport available if you call 911 and the problem is not life or limb threatening, such as minor injuries or illness, such as a sore throat. Minor injuries and illnesses generally don’t need an ambulance, but there are always exceptions.

If you are not sure if you need an ambulance, better to call 911 and they will assist you directly. It is likely that an ambulance is appropriate if you see that:

  • A person’s condition is potentially life-threatening. They could be experiencing chest pains, difficulty breathing, sudden confusion or an altered mental status. These symptoms could be signs of heart attack, stroke, or related conditions and immediate medical attention may be required. Call 911 and get an ambulance.
  • Someone is choking and needs abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) or back blows, or his or her heart has stopped and the individual requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Call 911 prior to performing CPR to get the ambulance moving; the dispatcher can also assist you with the life-saving procedures.
  • Moving the patient may further injure the individual. This can be seen in motor vehicle accidents or falls or other trauma. EMS agencies are trained in how to extract people safely from potentially dangerous situations.
  • You are unable to get yourself or the patient to the Emergency Department due to fall, injury or weakness. If you are too weak to get up on your own or too unsteady on your feet, it would not be a good idea to get behind the wheel of an automobile.

Other considerations include:

Rural vs. Urban. Your geographic location factors heavily into response times. If you live in a rural region, an ambulance – likely a volunteer rescue squad – may take a while to reach you, and in some rural areas, the response times can be significant if the ambulance is located far from your house. If you’re in a city, it could also take a long time if traffic is congested, though there may be more units available than there are in the countryside.

Money. If you cannot get yourself or the victim to the hospital due to lack of transportation or injury, and the condition is non-life threatening, call a friend or family member, taxi, or ride-sharing service. Using a car service will cost hundreds of dollars less than an ambulance.

Volunteer agencies may not charge you directly for transport, but the money comes from taxes. City Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies will charge you based on level of call and distance transported. If you have health insurance, this may cover part or all of an ambulance transport, depending on your insurance.

No matter your condition, emergency physicians will be ready and waiting on the other side.

Ambulance Service Vs. Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Service

The main difference between ambulance services and non-emergency medical transportation is urgency. When you dial 911 and call for emergency help, an ambulance comes and picks you up. Non-emergency medical transportation, as its name suggests, offers medical transportation in non-emergency situations. In most cases, this form of transportation is planned for and booked in advance. On the other hand, the need for an ambulance is almost always unplanned.

When you dial 911 for emergency services you could be picked up by an ambulance or a medical flight crew, depending on location and other circumstances. Basically, whatever is necessary to save your life. The goal is for the emergency crew to reach you as fast as possible to limit the risk of further complication, injury, or death.

A non-emergency medical transportation service generally requires advanced reservations as they are not equipped to rush to the scene in a matter of minutes. For starters, they don’t have a siren that prompts other drivers on the road to pull over.

Additionally, an ambulance ride requires no pre-approval—you call 911 and an ambulance arrives. Non-emergency transportation generally requires pre-authorization of payment.

Signs You Require Emergency Ambulance Services

  • You have an urgent and immediate need for medical attention that could be or is life threatening. Some examples include a heart attack or stroke, injury following a car accident or a bad fall, or a life-threatening situation of any kind.

Signs You Require Non-Emergency Transportation

  • You do not require emergency medical attention, aka your needs are not immediate. Examples include a schedule medical appointment, dialysis, physical therapy, etc.
  • There are no options for free transportation—family members cannot take you, free rides are not available at your time of need.
  • You have physical limitations or impairments that require a specialized medical vehicle. For instance, you are bed-bound and require stretcher transportation, or are in a wheelchair.
  • You need to travel long distance—ambulance rides are generally local, while non-emergency transportation offers local and long distance transportation.

From bariatric patients to patients on dialysis, there are countless reasons people of all ages may require non-emergency transportation services.

What Does an Ambulance Ride Cost?

Generally speaking, the most Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance ride is at least $600—and usually more. The total cost is calculated by distance traveled and the equipment used to sustain life along the way. For more serious circumstances, Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance rides start at closer to $1,000 and go up from there depending on distance traveled and equipment required. Insurance typically covers at least some of the expense of an ambulance ride.

Since Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are governed locally, the costs vary by location in the US. In fact, no two EMS systems are the same for this very reason. A rule of thumb is the bigger the city the more expensive the ride—with cities like Los Angeles and Miami running on average over $1,000 per ambulance ride.

Certain regions cover ambulance rides through the local fire department, and some towns use tax dollars to fund ambulance rides. Albeit, this is rare and not the case in Florida. In fact, Palm Beach, FL increased all ambulance ride fees by $100 in 2015.

What Does Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Cost?

Non-emergency medical transportation is WAY more affordable. In fact, our trips start at just $30 ! There’s no need to pay thousands of dollars for an ambulance when you really need non-emergency medical transportation.

Get a Quote for Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

Stellar Transportation offers first-class non-emergency medical transportation services in Melbourne, FL and beyond. We offer both local and long distance trips. All our drivers are certified in defensive driving and senior sensitivity. We have the experience and equipment to transport patients from all walks of life. From seniors to bariatric patients, our number one goal is to provide the safest, most comfortable, and affordable ride in town. Contact us today for a free quote.