When to call an ambulance

When to call an ambulance

Before you call for an ambulance, you need to assess the casualty. To do this, follow the steps of the Primary Survey, to see if they have any life-threatening or other serious conditions.

If the area isn’t safe for you to assess the casualty, then call an ambulance straight away. 

If someone’s condition is life-threatening or very serious, then call 999 or 112 for medical help.

If someone’s condition isn’t serious, then you need to decide if they need treatment or not, and what options there are  for example, to drive them to hospital, or to call their doctor’s surgery for medical advice.

When to call 999 or 112

Call 999 or 112 if someone needs immediate medical help. For example, if you think they: have had a heart attack, have a spinal injury or if they’re bleeding severely.

When you get through to the emergency services, you’ll need to give:

• your name

• a description of the condition of the casualty/casualties

• your telephone number or the best number for them to contact you on

• the exact location of the incident

• a description of the type of incident and how serious it is

• details of any hazards, such as gas, damage to power-lines or bad weather conditions.

When to take or send the casualty to hospital

Take or send someone to hospital if they need hospital treatment, but their condition is unlikely to get worse. For example, for a serious burn, a sprain where they can’t use their limb, or an eye injury.

You can either take them in your own car or arrange for a taxi to take them.

When to call or see a doctor

Suggest someone calls their doctor if their condition is not urgent, but you think they need treatment or if you are worried about their condition. For example, for a mild burn, a mild sprain, or a fever.

They can call their own doctor’s surgery, an NHS walk-in centre or the NHS Advice Line in England and Scotland on 111. In Wales you can call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

Make a donation

Your support helps to ensure that, wherever a first aid emergency occurs, someone is on hand to help. Make a donation today.

Find your course