Knowing when to call an ambulance to take someone in urgent need of medical care to their GP or A&E is a critical decision. Especially when the National Health Service is overwhelmed. Ambulances may have a hard time getting to you as most accident and emergency departments in the country are currently gridlocked. Since most ambulances services are having to queue for hours to deliver those in need of urgent care, patients may find themselves spending many hours in the back of ambulances or on trolleys in A&Es as they wait to be seen.
In this post, we will be looking at whether it’s better to call an ambulance or go directly to your GP or A&E. However it is probably worth mentioning that the NHS is not the only ambulance provider around, we forget about providing owned companies like team medic.
The information provided in this article is aimed at helping you with this critical and extremely difficult decision:
- Always request an ambulance if the person in need of medical care is a very young child, baby, or elderly person and you’re seriously concerned.
- As a caregiver, it’s worth keeping in mind that little children tend to mask serious symptoms, which, if not spotted early, could lead to their health deteriorating rather quickly.
What you decide to do will vary from one case to the other. Nevertheless, we strongly advise that you administer First Aid right away and call an ambulance if a person:
- Appears to have difficulty breathing, is having chest pains, isn’t breathing normally (appears to ‘suck in’ below the rib cage and is using other muscles to aid them to breathe), or is not breathing at all.
- Has a fatal injury that’s bleeding profusely and you’re unable to stop the bleeding even by applying direct pressure on the injury.
- Is unaware of what’s going around them are having difficulty speaking, are unconscious, or are feeling weak or numb.
- Has a seizure – especially if it’s their first time – but recovers. Make sure you call an ambulance if the person is having a seizure and the fitting lasts for more than three minutes.
- If the person is having a severe allergic reaction, make sure you first administer their epinephrine autoinjector (if they have one) then call an ambulance right away.
- If an elderly person or child has been burnt and you think the burn is severe enough to need dressing, first treat the burn by placing it under cool running water for at least twenty (20) minutes, then phone an ambulance. Keep the burn cool until help arrives. Also, look for signs of shock. For healthy and fit adults, keep the burn cool for at least twenty minutes – or longer if it’s still painful – then loosely cover the wound with cling film or apply a burn dressing before taking them to the hospital for medical attention.
- What to do when someone falls:
- Phone an ambulance if someone has; experienced spinal manipulation of any form; has fallen from a considerable height; been hit by something that was travelling at high speed; or has been hit with substantial force while fighting or playing a contact sport, and there’s a possibility they’ve injured their spinal cord.
- For cases involving people who’ve fallen and injured themselves, make sure they stay completely still and call for an ambulance.
- If the person is laying on their back unconscious but is still breathing and you’re worried about their airway, gently and cautiously roll them into what’s known as the recovery position, then call for an ambulance. To place a victim in the recovery position, carefully logroll them to their side while doing your best to ensure that you don’t twist their spinal cord. Make sure you have a good contingency plan in place on how you can get extra help to the treatment room in emergency cases.
- If the person is unconscious and is not breathing, perform CPR right away. For babies and children, perform CPR for one minute before calling an ambulance. For adults, call an ambulance right away and get an Automated External Defibrillator if there’s one available.