How to Call an Ambulance

Three Parts:Calling the AmbulanceSpotting EmergenciesProviding Assistance While Waiting

If you are ever in a life-threatening emergency, the ability to call an ambulance is a very useful skill. It is important to always have the emergency number for your area memorized. Being composed and prepared to help could save a life.

Part 1
Calling the Ambulance

  1. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 1
    Compose yourself. Take a deep breath and take a few seconds to collect yourself. While time is of critical importance, you can’t help if you are hysterical.[1]
  2. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 2
    Know the number. Emergency service numbers depend on which country you live in. You should always have the number to emergency services in your area memorized. After all, it is only three numbers. Look below for a list of some well-known emergency service numbers.
    • Dial 911(US/Canada)
    • Dial 999(UK); when using a mobile (cell) phone in UK use 112
    • Dial 000(Australia)
    • Dial 112 (Europe)
    • Dial 119 (Japan)
    • Other countries and continents have their own numbers, so look yours up if it is not listed here.
  3. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 3
    Ask the operator for an ambulance. The operator will want to know what type of help you need. In this case, make it clear that there has been a medical emergency and that you need an ambulance immediately. The operator will send the all necessary units to assist you.[2]
    • If the injury happened during the committing of a crime, you will also need police officers sent to your location.
    • If the injury occurred as the result of a fire or car accident, you will likely need firemen to come to the location as well.
  4. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 4
    Give the operator details. The operator will ask you a number of questions so that he can inform the proper parties about the situation. When asked, be prepared to provide the operator with the following information:[3]
    • Your location.
    • The number of the phone you are calling from, if you know it.
    • If you are in a public place- give the operator the nearest intersection or landmark (example First and Main street).
    • Tell them your name, the injured person's name and why you need an ambulance. Relate as much medical history as you know.
  5. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 5
    Stay calm and follow advice. The operator will stay on the phone with you until the first emergency responder arrives. The first responder will be followed by an ambulance.[4]
    • The phone operator may give you advice on how to help in the meantime. Follow this advice.[5]
  6. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 6
    Be prepared to assist. The emergency responders may ask you to help them on the scene when they arrive. Stay calm and collected and follow any instructions the first responders give to you. You may be asked to back away from the scene of the injury and wait for further instructions. If this is the case, do not interfere with emergency responders.

Part 2
Spotting Emergencies

  1. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 7
    Only call emergency services when they're really needed. As a general rule, if someone is fully conscious and able to walk there's no need for an ambulance, though they may need to go to the hospital. Only call in scenarios that require on-the-spot medical attention.[6]
    • Minor scrapes, cuts, or bruises are not emergencies.
    • A broken bone, while it can be dangerous, is often not a “life-threatening” emergency.
  2. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 8
    Err on the side of caution. If you are ever unsure about how badly a person is injured, it is better to call emergency services. You are not a trained medical professional and likely do not know how to treat or tend to serious injuries. So let the experts handle it if you unsure what you are dealing with.[7]
  3. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 9
    Look for life-threatening emergencies. It can be difficult to spot life-threatening emergencies in crisis scenarios. However, there are a few signs that you should be aware of, as they will let you know if emergency services are needed. They are:[8]
    • The victim is not breathing
    • The victim is losing excessive amounts of blood
    • The victim is not moving
    • The victim is not responsive
    • The victim is experiencing dizziness, difficulty breathing, or seems to be in shock
  4. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 10
    Call first, help second. Your first instinct may be to help the injured person, but it is critical that you call for help first. Every second counts. You don’t want to waste valuable time trying to determine if you can help before calling medical professionals.[9][10]

Part 3
Providing Assistance While Waiting

  1. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 11
    Analyze the situation. After calling emergency services, there are often things you can do to assist the injured person. Analyze the situation to determine if you can do anything to help before the first responders arrive.[11]
  2. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 12
    Eliminate any immediate threats. If possible, do whatever you can to remove the injured person or persons from further danger. However, it is critically important that when doing this, you do not put yourself at risk of being injured. There is already one emergency, don’t make it two.
    • If the victim is bleeding a lot, apply direct pressure to the wound to stem the flow of blood. Tie a towel or shirt around the wound, then apply pressure. You can also use any available items around to create a makeshift tourniquet.[12] A belt will do in a pinch, but is not ideal for this.
    • If the injury occurred in a car accident, you may need to assist by removing the injured individual from a car that smoking or smoldering. [13]
    • If the injured person is in a dangerous area, like a busy roadway, move her to the side of the road so that she doesn't get hit by a car or other vehicle.[14]
    • Don’t ever approach a vehicle that is already on fire and, if the injured person has suffered a spinal injury, never try to move the person yourself. You could make her injury worse or get yourself blown up.[15]
  3. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 13
    Provide CPR. If you are licensed and certified to perform CPR, you may need to do so. Check the injured person’s vital signs. If you don’t detect breathing, perform CPR. The steps are listed below. [16]
    • When performing CPR, begin with chest compressions. Place your fingers over the center of the chest, push down two inches, 30 times. Make sure you pump your hands hard and fast, achieving a rate of at least 100 pushes per minute. You will be pushing down faster than once per second.[17]
    • After pumping the chest 30 times, you will need to blow two breaths of air into the person’s lungs. To do this, gently tilt the injured individual’s head backwards and lift the chin upwards. Then, form a seal between your mouth and the victim’s mouth by pinching his nose and covering his mouth with yours. When providing air, blow until you have seen the injured person’s chest rise up. Blow in two breaths each time. Your breaths should take one second each. [18]
    • Repeat the process for as long as necessary, pumping the chest 30 times for each two breaths of air you give.[19]
    • If you are not familiar with CPR, it is better to allow someone else to administer it, as you could injure the victim in the process.
  4. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 14
    Find help in the immediate vicinity. You may not know CPR, but someone else around the scene of the injury might. Ask people around the scene to assist you in any way they can to help the victim. If you are attempting to move an individual (without a spinal injury) ask people around the scene for help.
  5. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 15
    Comfort the victim. Even if you can’t provide medical assistance, you can provide moral support. The injured person is likely to be scared or anxious. Sit with her and provide support and comfort until the responders arrive.
    • Tell the person that help is on the way. Keep talking to her and keep her talking to you.[20]
    • Try to help the individual relax and let her know she is not alone. If she is already on the ground, keep her lying there. If she is upright, have her lie down.[21]
    • If she asks, hold the injured person’s hand or rest a hand on her shoulder to let her know you are still there and willing to help.[22]
    • Listen to the injured person’s requests. Never give food or drink to a victim with unknown injuries. It may hurt more than it helps.[23]
  6. Image titled Call an Ambulance Step 16
    Get out of the way. Once emergency services arrive, get out of their way and stay out of their way unless otherwise instructed. They are trained professionals who are prepared to respond to emergencies, but they do not need any distractions from you.
    • In the case of an injury you witnessed, police will likely pull you away from the scene of the injury to ask you questions about what you saw. Follow the officers’ instructions and answer any questions you can while paramedics deal with the injured person.


  • Most people carry mobile phones. Stop someone and ask them to call an ambulance. Don't ask for the phone because it could lead to misunderstandings.
  • Don't do anything you feel uncomfortable with or that will put you in danger. Remember, there are trained professionals on the way.
  • Many US 911 systems use E-911 or "Enhanced 911". If you call from a land line, the computer should be able to tell what address you are calling from and record the "callback" number as well, but do not count on this and be prepared to tell the dispatcher where you are.
  • If you have an iPhone, the applications GPS911, GPS112 or Important Numbers for travels abroad will dial and display your accurate GPS position on screen.
  • Any phone will do. You don't need money to use a pay phone as the call is free.
  • Learn CPR and first aid before emergencies happen. Doing so can be life-saving in these cases.
  • If there is an emergency make sure you are not putting yourself in any danger. Scenario: Car crash in the middle of road. Do not go to help unless the victims are at the side of the road as there are cars coming past and you are in danger of being injured yourself. In any event of an emergency YOUR safety comes FIRST.


  • Don't hang up until you are instructed to do so by the operator.
  • Always check the injured person's wrists and neck for a medical tag. These can be gold or silver but should have a red "medic" symbol on them (a winged-staff with two snakes). Medic alert tags may let you know about medical problems, medications, or drug allergies.
  • The emergency telephone operators are people. While they expect a level of concern and panic from the person on the phone, getting angry with him; swearing at or insulting him is not an appropriate response. If you abuse the emergency service operators, you can be charged with the commission of a crime, regardless of whether or not it happened in a crisis situation.
  • Do not ever call out an ambulance as a prank. Doing so wastes community resources and risks the lives of people who actually need emergency medical help. Also, it is illegal, you can be traced directly to the phone you are using, and you can be arrested.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (20)

Article Info

Categories: First Aid and Emergencies