Ambulance services help many people with serious or life-threatening conditions. They also provide a range of other urgent and planned healthcare and transport services.
Ambulance crews can include a range medical staff, such as emergency care assistants and paramedics. Ambulance trusts should ensure that patients are given the appropriate level of care. For example, if someone needs a paramedic, one should be dispatched. Crews are highly trained in all aspects of emergency care, from trauma injuries to cardiac arrests. An ambulance is equipped with a variety of emergency care equipment, such as heart defibrillators, oxygen, intravenous drips, spinal and traction splints and a range of drugs.
Patients will always be taken to hospital when there is a medical need for this. However, ambulance staff now carry out more diagnostic tests and do basic procedures at the scene. Many crews also refer patients to social services, directly admit patients to specialist units and administer a wide range of drugs to deal with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, allergic reactions, overdoses and heart failure.
Emergency calls to the ambulance service are prioritised into two categories to ensure life-threatening cases receive the quickest response:
- Immediately life threatening – An emergency response will reach 75% of these calls within eight minutes. Where onward transport is required, 95% of life-threatening calls will receive an ambulance vehicle capable of transporting the patient safely within 19 minutes of the request for transport being made.
- All other calls – For conditions that are not life threatening, response targets are set locally.