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The Welsh Ambulance Service responds to more than 800 emergency calls a day across the country.

Every year we take over 285,000 999 calls in our four control centres in Wales.

Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year our call takers will take the details of your 999 call and send an appropriate response.

There are a number of responses we provide including the traditional two manned ambulance, a rapid response vehicle, a high dependency vehicle, a volunteer first responder, air ambulance helicopter or even a paramedic on a bike in some of our cities. In total, we have over 300 vehicles based in 90 ambulance stations across Wales.

Our crews are highly skilled professionals who are able to treat and stabilise patients before taking them to the most appropriate hospital if necessary. The ambulances themselves are state of the art and hold a wide range of emergency care equipment including oxygen, a defibrillator, advanced life-saving equipment and emergency drugs including pain relief.

Many of the calls we receive are not life threatening emergencies. Please stop and think before you dial 999.

What happens when you call?

When you call 999 a telephone operator will ask you which emergency service you need. In a medical emergency you should ask for an ambulance and you will be put through to one of our Control Centres.

You will need to tell us what is wrong and what has happened, the address where help is needed, including the postal area if you know it, and the phone number you are calling from.

Once this information is given, it is entered onto our computerised priority dispatch system and appropriate help will start to be arranged. However, the emergency medical dispatcher will need to ask some additional questions including:

  • the patient's age, sex and medical history
  • whether the patient is breathing, conscious, bleeding seriously or has had persistent chest pain
  • the type of injury and how it happened

Asking these questions will not delay help being arranged but it enables the emergency medical dispatcher to offer advice if needed and ensure the most appropriate assistance is provided.

There are a number of things that you can do to help the ambulance crew before they arrive:

  • If you are in the street, stay with the patient until the ambulance crew arrives and call back if their condition or location changes
  • If you are calling from home or work, get someone to open the doors and signal where the ambulance crew is needed
  • Lock away any family pets
  • If you can, write down the patient’s GP details and collect any medications that they are taking
  • Remember to stay calm - ambulance crews are there to help and violence towards them will not be tolerated

You will also be told how to help the patient whilst we are on the way.

When help arrives, the patient’s clinical condition will be assessed and treatment may be given as necessary at the scene.

If, after treatment, the patient’s condition is still critical, then they will be taken to either the nearest hospital accident and emergency department or to the most appropriate specialist centre such as a heart attack centre or burns unit.

Having handed over the patient, the crew need to make sure that the paperwork is complete and that their equipment and vehicle is ready for another call.

There are also a number of things that you can do today to help ambulance crews in your area:

  • Check that your house number or name is clearly visible from the roadside
  • If you live on an estate check that there is a map at the entrance to help ambulance crews find their way and check that the lift is working
  • Be prepared - read through the information again, so that you know what options you have available before dialling 999 and you know what information is needed if you ever do need an ambulance

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