Will you get seen faster in the Emergency Department (ED) if you arrive by ambulance compared to driving in yourself?
No. Ambulances are available for emergencies. When you call 9-1-1, paramedics arrive to help. They can diagnose some conditions, give certain medications and do some interventions. If necessary, they will communicate with the ED about your situation. However, you won’t necessarily get seen by the ED doctor any sooner than if you’d been dropped off by a taxi or neighbour. You will go through the exact same triage process as all patients. And don’t forget that you will also be sent a bill for the ambulance and paramedic service.
There are a limited number of ambulances in any region, and if one is being used for a patient with a non-urgent issue, then there are fewer ambulances available in the event of a real emergency like a cardiac arrest that happens at the swimming pool, or a major collision on the highway.
But there are circumstances when calling 9-1-1 is essential! Paramedics who arrive on the scene can often deliver life-saving treatments on the way to the ED.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect a heart attack or stroke, or for a serious accident, choking, major burns, severe allergic reactions, or drowning. If you are unsure if it’s a medical emergency, and are worried it could be, it is better to call 9-1-1.
This is an excerpt from PART 1: THINKING OF GOING TO THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT? and is one of many useful sidebars the book contains.
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