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What happens when you call 000 and ask for an ambulance?

“When you call 000 and ask for an ambulance what actually happens? What information do they ask for and do the police come?”

The Emergency number in Australia is Triple Zero (000). You can call this number 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any landline, pay phone or mobile phone. These calls are always free and, if you’re calling on a mobile, you will get through even if you do not have any credit or your phone is locked.

Police do not routinely attend an ambulance call, even if there are illegal drugs involved. If they do attend it is usually because the paramedics attending the emergency have asked them to be there. This is usually due to another crime taking place or the threat of violence. When you call for an ambulance, that’s what you get – an ambulance!

When you call 000 it will be answered by a Telstra operator who will ask you which service you want – police, fire brigade or ambulance. Once you have asked for an ambulance they may also ask what state and town you are calling from, particularly if you are calling from a mobile. You will then be connected to an ambulance control centre in your state or territory. A control centre officer will then need to ask for the following information:

  • Where are you? They will need to know your exact address, so try to provide as much information as you can. If you know the nearest cross street or any identifying landmarks that are nearby that can also be helpful. The more information you are able to provide, the faster the paramedics will be able to get there
  • What number are you calling from? Some young people panic when they are asked for this, worried that the number will be kept and possibly used to trace them at a later date. There is no need to worry though, as the only reason they need this is if you get ‘cut-off’ or they need to call you back to get extra information
  • What is the problem? Tell the ambulance operator what your emergency is, i.e., who is sick or hurt and what has happened to them. They will also sometimes ask how old the person is
  • Is the person conscious? Are you able to wake the person up? If you can’t it is likely that they will ask you other questions about their breathing

It is important that you try to keep as calm as possible and be clear. Based on your answers, the officer will be able to assess the situation and then respond appropriately. If it is required, an ambulance will be sent immediately. Do not hang-up as you may be asked additional questions to assist the paramedics who are on their way. They may also give you some simple first-aid instructions over the phone if necessary.

After hearing what the emergency is, the officer may decide that sending an ambulance is not required. At that point, depending on where you live, you may be transferred to a nurse for further assistance.

Calling for an ambulance for a friend, or even someone you do not know, can be quite scary. Try to keep as calm as possible, provide all the information you can and hopefully the experience won’t be too traumatic … Most importantly, once again, remember – police do not routinely attend an ambulance call. When you call for an ambulance, that’s what you get – an ambulance!

First published: April 2018

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