Major Incident Planning and Support (MIP+S) Level 3

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Ambulance control

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4 min 6 sec
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We are here talking to Ade Gibson from Ambulance Control. Ade, can you tell me a little bit about what is ambulance control?

Certainly. It is usually a room made up of numerous amounts of staff who have different skillsets and part of that is taking calls, emergency calls, receiving those, triaging those emergency calls and putting them into a category. Once the address is verified, they will go across to dispatch where the controllers will assign incidences to ambulances in that order of category.

So when a member of the public who has got no first aid experience at all, dials 999, what is actually the process? Who is the very first person that answers that call?

Well, firstly, when they ring triple nine, they will go through to the operator, BT, and then that will send that to call to the nearest ambulance service. Now, there are two ways that can reach us, either via landline, which is direct from a house phone, or from a mobile phone, which is usually triggered from a mask that is nearby, so there are two ways that call can be received. Once that call is received, obviously the first priority is to make sure that the patient is breathing, whether they are or not, and then to get the address. That is the next important thing.

So if a member of the public is not quite sure where they are, are there any easy ways of them to get that data across?

Yes, if they are in a high street next to a... They can name some shops or street names. What three words is a good one, and it is any sort of characteristics, pubs, hills, anything like that that can be descriptive to help find the address, because one of the advantages of being in control, is that we do use maps and we can sort of talk our way around or get information from the caller to try and pinpoint their location.

So once they have got the location and that has been pinpointed, what other information are they gonna need?

Well, anything about the patient, really. It is... When they make the triple nine call, we do ask to speak to the patient to get an idea of what the... What is going on, but if that patient is, cannot speak or for whatever reason they are unconscious, then they need to be near to that patient so we can actually find out what is going on and what is happening.

And if a first aider perspective needs help, can they give help in, for example, CPR or bleeding?

Certainly, once we receive the call and we started speaking to the caller, we gain or try and gain what the matter is on depending on what the problem nature is, we will give advice to the caller for the patient or to the patient before the ambulance arrives.

So the ambulance has been activated, but if it's something like a defibrillator, is that available as well? Because there are community defibrillators around... How would you actually access or give that information to the caller?

Well, once we have validated the address from the data set that we hold, it will come up on the incident that there is a CPD site nearby that will have the location, the distance, and the password to get into the cabinet once they arrive at the defibrillator site.

So, the call has been processed, so from your side of things, what would then happen? How would you then communicate that over to the nearest paramedic or ambulance crew?

Well, once the call is received, they will go through a triage process to find out, determine what the problem nature is, give the relevant advice, and that once that triage has ended, the call would be coded, whether it is life-threatening or non-life-threatening. Once the address is validated, it will be passed to the dispatch side, and the controller will assign the nearest ambulance for it to respond.

And what if the situation gets worse, for example, we are just dealing with a bleed or someone then they go unconscious. Can the caller call back 999? Or do they have to do something...

Certainly, they can always call back, but usually, if it is a life-threatening call, the person is unconscious, we will stay on the line to give them advice until the ambulance arrives.

So, from your side, if it is just a single person, that is one thing, but what about when it may be a more of a larger thing with multiple casualties? What sort of information would you need from a first aid perspective or for an individual?

Well, usually if it is multiple casualties, we will receive more than one call, so that will give us an indication of what is going on. Certainly in the triage, the questions that we ask will glean a lot of information from there, so we will quickly determine whether this is a single-person incident or a multi-person incident.