Guidelines when making a 999 call to the Ambulance Service

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Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) requires the ambulance service call handler to ask you a systematized series of key questions. These questions allow the system to categorize the call by the chief complaint (What is wrong with the patient). The 999 call is then automatically categorized as to the level of response by the ambulance service.

Guidelines when making 999 Call


You will be asked the following:


1. Case Entry


Telephone number and location of incident.


The Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) will ask you to verify these to ensure they have the correct information and an ambulance can be dispatched at this point in order to save time.


The Chief Complaint. (What is wrong?)


Age of the patient


Is he/she conscious?


Is he/she breathing?


2. Key Questions


These are questions relevant to the Chief Complaint of the patient.

(If you are unsure or do not know the answer it is not a problem and will not delay the ambulance).


3. In case of illness (Patients over 35 years)


Is there any chest pain?


4. In cases of accident or injury


Is there any severe bleeding?


5. Post-dispatch Instructions


These are given if appropriate at the end of the call to advice the caller what they can do to help the patient if they are not a qualified First Aider or Medical Professional.


6. Pre-arrival Instructions


These are protocol driven instructions given for life-threatening emergencies until the arrival of the ambulance.


The EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatcher) will also require a rendezvous point from you where the ambulance will be met and directed to the patient.


What were your experiences of this system when you needed to dialed 999 for an ambulance?


[Blog first published in 2010]



Last modified on Monday, 4 August 2014
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Clive Haddrell Cert Ed LIQA MSET

NHS Paramedic Tutor, NHS Ambulance Emergency Driving Tutor, FAETC 1&2, Cert/Ed, D32, D33, LIQA. Manual Handling Tutor (RoSPA) and Member of the Society for Education and Training. I have over thirty years experience with the former Avon Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and recently with Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. My experience includes the role of paramedic tutor, rapid response motorcycle paramedic. For the last 25years paramedic advisor to the well-known BBC television program "Casualty".

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