We take thousands of questions every day at our call centre.
Some are life or death situations, others a lot less serious.
Here's a list of the most common enquiries:
If I dial 999 and ask for an ambulance do I get one?
It depends how serious your injury or illness is. Ambulance crews are our most precious resource, and need to go where they are needed the most. We aim to reach all patients in a potentially life-threatening situation within 8 minutes. These are called Category A calls.
Less serious cases may also get an ambulance response, and will be prioritised accordingly after being clinically triaged.
Some calls to 999 do not require an ambulance response. In these instances, patients may be advised to seek help from their GP or local pharmacy.
Will the person who answers my call ask lots of technical questions?
We understand that it can be frustrating to be asked a series of questions after dialing 999 when someone has been hurt or is feeling unwell. However this is an important part of the treatment process.
Staff who handle calls at the North East Ambulance Service have been trained to triage symptoms, ensuring each patient gets the best and most appropriate treatment.
Most of the questions asked will be about who the patient is, where they are and what has happened. You will also be asked to describe any obvious symptoms
What kind of information should I have ready to tell the ambulance people when I ring?
The basics. Where you are calling from, what has happened, your name, and – if possible – the patient’s name. If you know something about the patient’s medical history which may relate to the reason for the call, tell the call handler
Will I go to the closest hospital?
Not always. We want patients to get the best possible treatment for their particular injury or illness. Sometimes this means travelling to a hospital which specialises in a certain area of medicine. The closest hospital is not always the best.
How long will it take for the ambulance to reach me?
As mentioned previously, we aim to reach all patients in a potentially life-threatening situation within 8 minutes. Less serious cases which require an ambulance response are prioritised accordingly.
Are all members of an ambulance crew equally qualified?
All of our crews are medically trained, but each has different skills. The most serious cases will always be attended to by a paramedic.
Will the ambulance have all the equipment needed to treat me?
Modern ambulances are in many ways mobile hospitals. Over the years, the amount of treatments provided by paramedics has grown. All of our vehicles include the essential kit to hopefully keep a patient alive until they reach hospital
Will the ambulance be clean?
Hygiene is vitally important. Ambulances are kept scrupulously clean at all times. Items such as dressings or syringes used on a patient are disposed of after each arrival at hospital. Crews use antibacterial hand washes before treating each patient.
Once a patient has been taken into hospital, the vehicle does not go back on the road until the crew are satisfied the ambulance meets the high standard of hygiene required.
I’m not sure if my call should be to 999, but I still need help. What should I do?
Other routes to medical help exist, you can call 111. This is a relatively new service pioneered by NEAS, which handles non-urgent calls,or seek help from your local GP or pharmacist.
If in doubt, call 999.