How we respond to 999 calls

When someone calls 999 the first person they will speak to is a call handler in one of our emergency operations centres. The call handler asks a number of questions to ascertain as much information about the patient‟s illness or injury to ensure that the right type of medical help is arranged.

Given the high volume of 999 calls received, the Trust has to prioritise each patient according to the seriousness and nature of the problem. This is to ensure those with the greatest need get help first. This is done through a sophisticated software system which categorises the severity of each patient‟s condition. There are six nationally agreed categories each with a nationally agreed response target for the Red categories and local commissioner agreed Green and Urgent targets as detailed in the table below.
 

Category                       Description      Response time and target
         
Red 1
Patients with potentially life threatening conditions; for example a cardiac arrest
An eight-minute response 75% of the time
         
Red 2
Patients with potentially life threatening conditions; for example a suspected stroke
An eight-minute response 75% of the time
         
Red 19
Patients requiring transport to hospital receive a vehicle able to transport them in a clinically safe manner.
A nineteen minute response 95% of the time.
         
Green 1    Patients with serious, but not life threatening, conditions; for example a diabetic condition
An emergency response within 20 minutes, 75% of the time 
         
Green 2   Patients with serious, but not life threatening, conditions; for example a suspected fractured arm
An emergency response within 30 minutes, 75% of the time
         
Green 3   Patients with non-emergency conditions; for example an overdose with no symptoms
A response within 50 minutes or a phone assessment from a clinician within 20 minutes, 75% of the time
         
Green 4   Patients with non-emergency conditions; for example someone who has fallen with no apparent injuries
A response within 90 minutes or a phone assessment from a clinician within 60 minutes, 75% of the time
         

For some patients with minor conditions a paramedic or nurse may treat them over the phone, completing a more in-depth assessment to understand what the patient really needs.

This may be advice to see their own GP, visiting a pharmacy, or speaking to an out of hour's service.  This means that those patients get the right care for their needs locally rather than being taken to hospital and potentially very busy A&E departments. Crucially this also frees up ambulances for those in the greatest need, giving them a faster and potentially lifesaving response.

Call handlers in our emergency operations centres record information about the nature of the patient’s illness or injury to make sure the right kind of response is made.

Our call handlers use sophisticated software to put the call into a particular category, depending on how urgent the problem is.

Calls are divided into categories:  Red 1 (immediately life-threatening), Red 2 (serious but not immediately life-threatening) or Green 1-4 (less serious or minor illness or injury).

 

Related pages

East of England Ambulance Headquarters
Whiting Way
Melbourn
Cambridgeshire
SG8 6EN
Sat Nav postcode SG8 6NA