When should I call an ambulance?

This information should be used as a guide only. If you are unsure about whether a person requires an ambulance, you should call Triple Zero (000).

Save Triple Zero (000) for saving lives and only call in a medical emergency.

Below are a few examples of medical emergencies which would require you to call Triple Zero (000):

  • chest pain or chest tightness
  • sudden onset of weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
  • breathing difficulties
  • unconsciousness
  • uncontrollable bleeding
  • sudden collapse or unexplained fall
  • seizures
  • acute abdominal pain
  • injury from a major car accident
  • falling from a great height
  • serious assault including stabbing or shooting
  • severe burns, particularly in young children
Where else can I get medical advice or assistance?

If you do not require an ambulance the ACT Health web-site can assist you to find health services that may better suit your needs or circumstances.

Access: http://findahealthservice.act.gov.au and scroll to health advice

What happens when I call 000?

When you call 000, you will initially be asked if you require police, fire or ambulance. When connected to the ambulance service you will be asked for your location. Further questions are asked to allow our service to identify the most appropriate type of resource to send to you and the urgency of the request.

Requests are triaged according to the patient’s condition and demand for emergency ambulance assistance at the time of your call. ACTAS is responsible for triaging in order to meet your needs while continuing to provide emergency medical services and cover to the whole of the ACT community.

To this end, it is important that we receive information regarding the current condition of the patient (the reason for the call) quickly and that you are ready to provide us with the relevant information without placing a 000 call on hold to either transfer the call or obtain this information. 

Questions we ask either over the phone or on arrival are designed to assist in rapidly developing a clear clinical picture to inform immediate treatment needs, urgency of response, and the ability to provide a better quality handover to the emergency department.

What do I need to do before the ambulance arrives?
  • If possible have someone to direct us in, particularly if the location may be hard to find. Turn lights on (inside and outside), unlock the door or have someone let us in. Provide a clear access route to the patient.
  • Current medical information and a list of current prescription and non-prescription medications copied or written out in a form we can take with us.
  • If the patient has an advanced care directive or order please give this to the officers as soon as they arrive (please note that the ambulance service does not have the capacity to keep this information on our systems).
  • If you or the person who may need an ambulance does not speak English please make sure there is a list of people who we can call to help and who can come to be with you or them at hospital if required.

Please note that ambulance vehicles are not equipped to transport wheelchairs, walking frames or large amounts of belongings as these cannot be safely restrained. Such items must be transported privately.

Will I always be taken to hospital?

Following ambulance assessment transport to an emergency department may not be recommended and alternate options, considerations or recommendations for follow up will be discussed with the patient and family or carer.

If I am taken to hospital does this mean I won’t have to wait?

If a patient is transported to hospital the emergency department carries out its own triage processes and is responsible for deciding if the patient is placed in a bed or in the waiting room. It is the clinical status of the patient on arrival and the existing demand on available emergency department resources which are considered. Ambulance transport to hospital does not affect this.

What if I live in a secure complex or apartment block?

If you have special access instructions to access your property, please email ACT Ambulance at  Ambulance@act.gov.au with your instructions. We will make contact with you to discuss further if needed.

I have a key safe for access to my home, who do I let know?

If you have installed a key safe for access to your home please provide the details in writing to: ESAComCenManagement@act.gov.au

Can I have an ambulance come to my fete or event?

We have many worthy requests for community visits or talks on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately ACTAS does not have the capacity to provide ambulance officers and vehicles from actively operational crews for events or visits and we do not have dedicated community education officers. We can only suggest that the community group asks around to see if anyone involved with the community or event has a relative or friend who is an ambulance officer and who may be willing to do a visit in their own time. We are not able to facilitate this as it is on a purely volunteer basis. We are happy to facilitate the use of a spare vehicle, if available, for this purpose when contacted by interested officers.

How much does an ambulance cost?

Ambulance fees and charges are approved by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and are reviewed annually.

As per Section 201 (2) of the Emergencies Act 2004, legal obligation is placed on the person receiving the Ambulance service to pay the account.

Visit the Fees and charges page for fees and charges current as of 1 July 2023.

How do I provide feedback?

The ACT Ambulance Service recognises, promotes and protects your rights to comment and complain about the services provided to you. We will provide an efficient, fair and accessible framework for resolving your complaint. We support the monitoring of your complaint in an endeavour to improve the quality of services the ACT Ambulance Service provides to our consumers.

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