A recent survey by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) found the general public has some misconceptions about what happens when they ring 999.
For example, almost half (47 per cent) of people in the North West think an emergency ambulance will reach an elderly person in less than ten minutes if they fall.
However, ambulances are not always dispatched, and if they are, can take up to four hours to arrive when it’s not a serious or life-threatening situation.
That’s why NWAS has launched its #Team999 campaign, which aims to educate the public about the different care options available when they call 999 – an ambulance or a trip to hospital might not be in the best interests of the patient.
There are 2,700 ambulance clinicians working in the North West, including Ruth Thomas – Emergency Medical Technician and Pete Sutcliffe – Paramedic, who this month are being profiled by the #Team999 campaign to raise public awareness of their role and skills within the ambulance service.
Educating the public about what happens when they call 999 is especially important over the festive period – traditionally a very busy time for NWAS. From April 2012 – March 2013, ten of the fifteen busiest days of the year for NWAS fell within the festive season.
The busiest day in this period was New Year’s Day, with 5,125 calls to the ambulance service, which is 70 per cent higher than the number of calls received on an average day (3,000). This was followed by 21 December 2012 (commonly known as ‘Mad Friday) with 3,866 calls and 26 December 2012, Boxing Day, with 3,799 calls.
“The Christmas period is always a really busy time of year for NWAS, so it’s really important to let people know when they should be calling an ambulance, what could happen when they do, and what other help is available.”
“There is no doubt that, in a medical emergency, it is essential to call 999 and get a trained member of the ambulance service on the scene as soon as possible.
However, if it is a less urgent situation, people should think about the other options – for example taking alternative transport to the hospital, visiting their GP or local walk-in centre, calling NHS 111, or following self-care advice at home.
It’s also worth noting that arriving at A&E in an ambulance will not get you seen any faster than if you’d arrived there by other means.”