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When to call 999

In a high stress situation, it can be hard to know who to ask for help. But if you call 999 and it’s not an emergency, you could be delaying us from responding to someone who needs our help more.

If you need an ambulance, you’ll be patched through to our call handlers. They’ll ask you:

We’ll also ask you about the patient’s age, sex and medical history (if you know it).

You may need to stay on the phone while an ambulance is dispatched. Our call handlers will give you medical advice on how to help the patient until we get there.

Answering these questions will not impact how quickly we’ll arrive. But it does mean you might be able to administer first aid in the meantime.

What you can do while you’re waiting for the ambulance

Stay with the patient until we arrive and try to remain calm. Tell us if the patient’s condition or location changes.

If you’re at home or at work, you should:

If you’re on the street, stay with the patient until the ambulance or rapid response vehicle arrives. If you’re in your car, turn your hazard lights on.

Remember that we’re here to help and any violence towards our ambulance crews will not be tolerated.

What type of help you can expect

If we are able to send a community first responder, they may arrive before ambulances do. Help may arrive in:

We may also send:

Give us feedback

If you’ve had to contact our 999 emergency service recently, we’d like to hear from you. Your feedback will help us to improve our service and ultimately save more lives.

Complete our Emergency Services Patient Experience Survey.

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