Why do we need this public awareness campaign?
This campaign encourages the community to call an ambulance only in an emergency situation, and to use other health services for less urgent health needs. The availability of paramedics to respond quickly to seriously injured and unwell patients is reduced when an ambulance is called to a non-emergency situation.
We want to help people better understand the right time to call an emergency ambulance and when it’s more appropriate to contact another health service for assistance or advice.
Last year, we referred 102,000 Triple Zero (000) callers to alternative health services or advised self-treatment at home rather than sending an ambulance. We’re asking people to think about their options and save Triple Zero (000) calls only for real emergencies.
What’s an emergency?
People sometimes hesitate to call Triple Zero (000) because they are not sure if the situation qualifies as an emergency. If in doubt, always call Triple Zero (000). Call takers are trained to help you and will direct you to the appropriate assistance.
An immediate life-threatening emergency needing an ambulance may include the following:
- chest pain or chest tightness
- difficulty breathing
- extreme pain
- large burns
- serious accidents or trauma
- severe bleeding
- sudden numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
Who can I contact for help if it’s not an emergency?
There are a number of options available to assist you with less urgent health needs, including visiting your local doctor, visiting a pharmacy or phoning Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24 for immediate advice 24 hours a day. Read more at the Better Health Channel.
Will I get an ambulance if I call Triple Zero (000)?
If you have an emergency and you need an ambulance, you will get one. Every call to Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance is carefully assessed to ensure we understand the patient’s requirements and to ensure they get the care they need. Less urgent calls go to our Referral Service for more detailed assessment to match callers to the service that best suits their needs. We may direct our callers to alternative care in some of these cases.
What else are we doing to make sure ambulances are available for emergencies?
We’ve made important changes in the past two years to the way we assess Triple Zero (000) calls in order to identify non-emergency cases and only send an ambulance to those people who genuinely need urgent care. This ensures that an emergency response is prioritised and available for our sickest patients.
Expert paramedic and nursing staff in our Referral Service assess less urgent calls in order to respond to each patient’s needs and the urgency of their situation. Learn more about the changes we have made.
We are also recruiting more paramedics, putting more ambulances on the road and building and upgrading branches across the state to provide a world-class ambulance service for Victorians. This significant government investment is helping us meet the growing community demand for our services, and better support our paramedics to respond to emergencies.