Being ready for your help

How to help your help

When I’m training we always talk about how and when to access help.  This may sound easy but in this blog I discuss how to be ready for the ambulance to arrive and what you can do to help yourself and them.


Contacting your help

In the UK our well-known emergency number is 999 but do you know you can also ring 112Works the same as 999, works across Europe and enables your position to be triangulated?  I’ve written a previous blog on all the different numbers we have and what each of them are for.  There’s also a link to a video about the 112 service as there are advantages if you’re in the countryside or ringing from a mobile.

I read something recently that said if there’s a crowd people can be reluctant to get involved.  The advice was that if you need help pick someone out of the crowd and ask them specifically to help you.  If they’re calling an ambulance for you ensure they know what to tell them and they confirm with you that it’s been done.

When you ring for help you are asked certain questions:-

  • Which service do you require? (assuming you’ve asked for ambulance)
  • What is the address?
  • What is your telephone number?
  • What’s happened?
  • Are they awake?
  • Are they breathing normally?
  • Are they changing colour?

Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.

When you ring for your help the emergency operator who answers first will always asks “which service do you require?”  Do not assume they know your area as you may be put through to an operator who is not local.  Therefore, if you need a service such as Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue or the Coast Guard you need to ask, don’t assume.

They will then want to know your location, be as specific as possible, and your telephone number.  Often they will stay on the line with you but if you’re calling from a healthcare premises they may ring off.  They will also ask lots of questions about your casualties condition, firstly – are they awake? Secondly – are they breathing normally?  It’s important that whoever is calling the ambulance knows this information as it prioritises your call.  Asking this information will not delay your help but it will be given to the ambulance crew.


Once your help is on the way

Once your help is on the way send someone to wait at your door or on the main road if it’s not clear where you are, then they can be directed to you and take vital seconds off their response time.  If you have common SatNav issues then pre-empt it.  I used to offer training on a site that was a public building and they knew that a SatNav took the ambulance to the wrong side of the river! Answer = send someone to the fork in the road to wave them in.

Whilst waiting for your help continue to look after your casualty.  If their condition deteriorates it can help if you phone your ambulance again.  This does two things, firstly, it will re-prioritise your call if that needs doing and secondly, the information will be relayed to the team so they know what equipment they’re likely to need to bring in and what the nature of the emergency is.


When your help arrives

Once your help is with you carry on until they’re ready to take over from you.  They’ll want to know everything you know about what’s happened.  So any information you have will be useful.  If you are a medical or dental practice give them a printed summary or a copy of their medical declaration form to take with them.  If you’ve given any medicines they’ll want to know what, when and how much you gave, so keeping a written record of this type of information as you go along is also useful.  You may be familiar with the ABCDE approach and you can use this as a formula for your documentation.  It makes it easy for other health professionals to understand and follow.

The ambulance crew will likely start some treatment before they leave, stay with them and be on hand in case they need anything else.


After they’ve left

Once your help has left be prepared for how you might feel.  Ensure you and your colleagues/friends have a chat or debrief about how it went, ensure you discuss what went well, don’t focus purely on what didn’t go as well as you’d hoped.  If it went well it’s also important to congratulate yourselves.


Any questions or comments?

I hope you found this useful, if you would like to add your own comments about your experiences please do. if you have any questions please contact me.

Photo Credit: lydia_shiningbrightly via Compfight cc