999

Proud to be caring for you

I’m one of over 1,000 frontline staff working on ambulances, rapid response vehicles and air ambulances that provide a round-the-clock 999 emergency service across the four counties of the South Central region.

Together with the support of emergency call takers, dispatchers and clinicians working in our two clinical co-ordination centres in Bicester, Oxfordshire, and Otterbourne, Hampshire, we deal with on average more than 1,800 emergency 999 calls every day from members of the public.

Thanks to the skills, speed, professionalism and expertise of everyone working within the SCAS 999 service, today you are over 60% more likely to survive a major trauma than you were in 2009. SCAS is also the best performing ambulance trust in England for patients suffering a cardiac arrest surviving to hospital discharge.

When you really need us, myself and my colleagues will be there.

999 calls received in 2015/16

Ready for the challenge

One of our key challenges this year has been keeping up with demand, particularly in emergency 999 calls where we have seen a 5.3% year-on-year increase compared to 2013/14. This comes at a time of a national shortage of paramedics. As well as supporting staff from within the Trust to train to become qualified paramedics, we have also been working with Oxford Brookes and other local universities to ensure that we are building the required capacity within the higher education sector to increase the volume of graduate paramedics entering the job market in future years.

Busier and busier

Our clinical co-ordination centres are based in Bicester and Otterbourne and receive well over 1,000 emergency calls every day, which are handled by over 500 call centre staff who work 24/7. To meet this demand we have more than 1,400 paramedics, technicians and emergency care assistants on the road delivering excellent front line care. We have a fleet of 279 specially-equipped emergency vehicles from over 30 sites across the region.

Our paramedic practitioners work in the community with additional skills such as being able to supply medication for a range of minor illnesses, provide advanced care for long term conditions, and manage a range of minor injuries at home. To support delivery of our key performance targets (Red 1, Red 2 and Red 19) we have established a network of stand-by points, where vehicles wait until dispatched, To ensure the fastest response times for patients. We deploy rapid response vehicles (RRVs) and ambulances, each with highly-skilled staff trained in the use of the latest medical equipment.

We also respond to urgent calls from GPs and other health care professionals. As an ambulance service, we regularly work in close partnership with other blue light and emergency services in response to a wide range of incidents. As well as working together routinely, we also train together regularly in order that we can be more prepared for emergency situations.

Such cooperation and partnership working ensures the public receives a joined up, coordinated and comprehensive service in crisis situations.

How do we respond in an emergency?

We respond to emergency 999 calls by getting medical help to patients who have life-threatening injuries or illnesses as quickly as possible.

Every time we receive a 999 call, our staff record the relevant details and use information about the nature of the patient’s illness or injury to ensure they are sent the right medical help.

Our call handlers and dispatchers (emergency response assistants and emergency response co-ordinators) use software to categorise the call.

Life-threatening calls are classified as RED calls.

We have a range of highly skilled staff who will treat our patients including:

  • Paramedics
  • Technicians
  • Emergency care assistants
  • Emergency care practitioners
  • British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) doctors
  • Community first responders
  • Clinical support desk operators staffed by clinicians.

The Trust is required to meet Government set targets for Red calls. These targets state that we must reach:

RED8 indicates a performance target for an emergency response to reach the incident with 8 minutes from the time the call is connected to the ambulance emergency control centre.

National target is to respond to 75% of all these calls within 8 minutes.

RED19 indicates a performance target for a conveying response (ambulance or rapid response vehicle) to reach the incident within 19 minutes from the time the call is connected to the ambulance emergency control centre.

National target is to respond to 95% of all these calls within 19 minutes.

Contacting 999 if you have a speech or hearing impairment

If you have a speech or hearing impairment, find out how you can contact us below.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can contact us by texting from your mobile. This facility is available in any type of emergency and is for people who can’t use the standard 999 voice or the RNID’s text relay services.

Register to use the text service

You must register your mobile phone on the emergencySMS website to be able to use the text service.

How to use the text service to contact 999

Once you have registered,  send a text to 999 to access emergency medical assistance.

Your text message should include:

  • which service you need: ambulance, fire police or coastguard
  • a brief description of the problem
  • the name of the road and post code area where the incident is happening

If possible, try to include:

  • a house number
  • nearby landmarks or main roads

We will be able to respond more quickly and appropriately if you include this information and are as accurate as possible when giving the location.

For example, your text might read:

  • “ambulance. man collapsed. outside post office. station road so31”
  • “ambulance. lady on floor not breathing. 7-8 Talisman Business Centre. Talisman Road. near Bicester Village Station”

If you suffer from a chronic health condition prepare a text template and store it in your phone to use when you need it.

How we will respond

When we receive your message we will send you a text. We may text for further information, but this will not delay our ambulance response to you.

If you do not receive a confirmation text from us, text again.

For more information, please visit http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/

Without the help from the 999 crew I wouldn’t be here.

Steve Persighetti

Road staff

Call centre staff

Watch Lindsey talk about our 999 service which helped to deliver her twins