It’s a very frightening experience so be sure you’re prepared for what calling an ambulance involves.
911 is not an emergency number ?in South Africa
This number only works in America. The toll-free number for emergency services in SA is 10177. You can also call 112 from any cellphone. You will then reach a call centre and they will route you to the closest emergency service. It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the number of the ambulance service (either public or private) in your area and make sure you keep it handy – close to the phone or programmed into your cellphone.
You will reach an automated menu
This is not to frustrate you in a time of emergency, but rather acts as a form of “triage control” and filters out abuse of the system, says Mande. The key selection menu that you reach when dialling an emergency services number is there to sort the urgent calls from the non-urgent calls, as the number you dial for an ambulance is the same number you dial to tend to your ambulance bill.
Choosing the correct selection will take you to the operator who is most suited to help your specific situation. Mande adds, “If the emergency services don’t think the situation is serious enough they won’t come.”
Make sure they can find you
It’s easy to get caught up in the distress and fear of the moment when calling for an ambulance, but it’s imperative that you stay calm and give emergency services the information they need to help you.
When calling for an ambulance you will need to tell them who you are, what your number is (in case emergency services needs to call you back) and what your street address is exactly (together with your suburb and province). Try to include your nearest intersection and landmark as well.
Make sure your house is numbered clearly, and send someone out into the street to wait for, and direct, the ambulance.
It may feel like you are wasting precious seconds doing this, but by giving them clear information you are ensuring that the ambulance finds it’s way to you rather than getting lost and wasting even more time.
You will need to answer questions
The operator will ask you questions about the incident and patient in order to determine what kind of emergency response is needed. The operator will probably give you instructions over the phone while the ambulance is on its way. Don’t put the phone down until the operator has ended the call.
The paramedics in the ambulance may also phone you back to let you know where they are or to find out some more information from you. Remember that they are trained to deal with emergencies and as such have to remain calm no matter what.
Know who to expect
The ambulance service will send either one or two paramedics to your aid depending on what type of care the situation calls for. One paramedic is sent in cases of advanced life support. This paramedic will more often than not arrive in a car, not an ambulance.
“The ambulance crew will always assess the situation before reacting to the patient. It may look like they’re not doing anything, but they are in fact doing the most important task of all in their jobs at this point. They might also bring equipment with them. Feel free to ask them what they are doing and why and remember a paramedic must have your permission before giving your child an injection,” says Mande.