About one million responses are made by NSW Ambulance each year
Calling an Ambulance
Our road fleet travels approximately 44,000,000 kilometres per year. Ninety-one percent of our staff are involved in the delivery of frontline services. This includes paramedics and specialised areas such as intensive care and extended care paramedics, special operations, counter disaster, aeromedical and medical retrieval.
Knowing how to call Triple Zero (000) in a medical emergency can be the difference between life and death.
If you are faced with a medical emergency, there are a few simple but important things you need to do.
1. Call Triple Zero (000)
You can call Triple Zero (000) 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any landline, pay phone or mobile phone.
Calls to Triple Zero (000) are always free.
If using a pay phone, you do not need to use a coin.
If using a pre-paid mobile phone with no credit, you can still call Triple Zero (000) and you will be connected.
2. Ask for an ambulance
When you call Triple Zero (000), a Telstra operator will ask which service you require - Police, Fire or Ambulance.
In the event of a medical emergency, ask for AMBULANCE.
3. Answer the control centre assistant's questions
You will be connected to an ambulance control centre. The control centre assistant will ask you a standard set of questions. Answering these questions helps us organise the most appropriate service as quickly as possible.
4. Keep calm and be clear
It is important to stay calm. Speak slowly and clearly.
5. Do not hang up. Stay on the line for more instructions
Once you have answered the control centre assistant's initial questions, an appropriate service will be organised.
If you have a life-threatening injury or illness, paramedics will be sent immediately. The control centre assistant will then ask you additional questions to assist our paramedics en route. Answering these questions does not delay their arrival. The control centre assistant may also provide further assistance and/or medical advice and instructions depending on the medical emergency.
For some medical conditions sending paramedics may not be required. If this is the case we will transfer you to a nurse, at Healthdirect, for further assistance.
For more information:
NSW Ambulance provides clinical care and health related transport services to the people of NSW - all 7.25 million of them.
Every 27 seconds, one of these people will call Ambulance for help.
When you call Triple Zero (000), paramedics are sent to ensure that patients who need the most urgent care are seen faster. This enables us to get the right help to the right person at the right time.
From mobile phones
Where possible, it is always best to call Triple Zero (000) from a fixed phone to avoid issues such as poor reception, limited or no network coverage and low battery when you use a mobile phone.
However, if you have no alternative but to use a mobile phone you can still dial Triple Zero (000).
According to The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA):
"Special roaming capabilities of the vast majority of mobile phones when calling Triple Zero (000) mean that when you are out of your service provider's coverage area but are in another carrier's mobile phone network coverage area, your call will be carried on the other carrier's network.
However, it is important to realise that if there is no mobile coverage, you will not be able to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile phone, and alternative devices, such as personal location beacons (PLBs)* should be considered. PLBs are equipped to send a distress signal with location details on a dedicated radio frequency that communicates with Search and Rescue operators.
112 is a secondary emergency number that can be dialled from mobile phones in Australia. Special capabilities, including roaming, once only existed when dialling 112, however mobile phones manufactured since January 2002 also provide these capabilities when dialling Triple Zero (000) to access the emergency call service. It is important to realise that if there is no mobile coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the emergency call service via a mobile phone, regardless of which number you dialled."
NSW Ambulance does not have the capacity to receive an SMS text message from mobile phones in an emergency.
* For bushwalkers in the Blue Mountains, PLBs donated by Benbro Electronics are available from on loan from the NPWS Blue Mountains Heritage Centre at Blackheath, and after hours at the Katoomba or Springwood Police Stations.
Triple Zero (000) can be called from certain VoIP services.
According to The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA):
"Providers of two-way VoIP services, which would allow you to make and receive calls, must provide you with access to the emergency call service.
Providers of one-way VoIP services that allow you to make calls only, are also obliged to provide you with access to the emergency call service unless they clearly inform you that such access is not available and you acknowledge this limitation.
If it's important to you that you can make emergency calls from your VoIP service, check with your VoIP provider about access to emergency calls."
All callers should dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency, regardless of their level of English. If a NSW Ambulance Call Taker experiences difficulty in understanding a caller they may access the Interpreter Service. The Call Taker will establish a three-way conversation with the caller and interpreter to facilitate communication.
To assist people whose first language is not English, fact sheets in several community languages can be found under Multilingual Resources on the Publications page of our website. Additionally, the TIS National website provides many resources for people whose first language is not English.
Hearing or speech impairment
People with hearing or speech impairments can access emergency services by:
- TTY - dial 106
- Landline - dial 1800 555 727 and ask for Triple Zero (000)
The 106 number provides the same service as the Triple Zero (000) emergency service, but is only for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment.
This text based emergency service allows callers to pass on text information to a relay officer, who dials the correct emergency service and relays the conversations. 106 is a toll-free number provided as part of the National Relay Service (NRS).
More information on this service can be found here or on the National Relay Service website.
There is a separate emergency call procedure for Speak and Listen callers who use a landline or mobile phone rather than a TTY. In an emergency, dial 1800 555 727 and then ask for Triple Zero (000).The relay officer will dial the correct service and stay on the line to help you, if necessary, communicate with the emergency service.
The Emergency number in Australia is Triple Zero (000). In a medical emergency dial Triple Zero (000) and ask for Ambulance. Our response starts as soon as you call.
In urgent medical situations it is most important that you ring Triple Zero (000) and ask for AMBULANCE.
Do not panic or drive to hospital yourself. People driving themselves to hospital in urgent medical situations have often come to grief, not only risking further injury to themselves, but also to everyone else on the road.
Examples of medical emergencies
- Sudden collapse
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Motor vehicle/cycle accident
- Fractured bones
- Uncontrollable bleeding
Paramedics are highly trained health professionals. They bring modern emergency and resuscitation equipment to the patient and commence lifesaving treatment at the scene as well as continuing this on the way to hospital.
Road users should give way as soon as you hear a siren or see the flashing lights. Don’t panic or break traffic rules. That can make matters worse. Generally move safely to the left.
If you or someone you know is sick but it is not a life-threatening emergency and you do not require immediate medical attention, consider the following options before calling Triple Zero (000):
General Practitioner (GP)
See a GP for illnesses or injuries that just won't go away and cannot be treated by over-the-counter medication.
See a pharmacist for common health problems such as coughs, colds or sore throats.
Healthdirect Australia - 1800 022 222
Healthdirect Australia is a 24-hour telephone health advice line staffed by registered nurses to provide fast and simple expert advice on any health issue and what to do next.
Healthdirect Australia can be used when:
- someone is sick and you're not sure what to do
- you want expert advice about a health issue and what to do next
- you need to know where to find after-hours health services or pharmacies
For more information visit www.healthdirect.org.au
The After Hours Medical Deputising Service
For appropriate patients paramedics can now contact one of two authorised Medical Deputising Services to arrange a home visit for the patient.
NSW Ambulance has officiated partnerships with the National Home Doctor Service and the Australian Locum Medical Service to provide after-hours medical deputising services.
The National Home Doctors Service and the Australian Locum Medical Service will provide after-hours general practice (GP) services for low acuity patients referred by NSW Ambulance paramedics in the Sydney metropolitan area.
For more information visit:
National Home Doctors Service:
Head Office Telephone No - 03 8341 1200
After hours home visit bookings - 13 26 60
House Call Doctor
Call 13 55 66 to book an appointment within the Tweed Heads and Kingscliff region.
When calling Triple Zero (000)
- If calling from a house, unit, flat or business address, ensure that the building number is clearly visible from the street.
- If you are in a hard to find location have someone wait outside the building/location to wave the ambulance down or leave the front light on at night.
- If you live in a rural area or an area difficult to find, remember landmarks such as ‘yellow house with blue picket fence' for example.
- Make it a habit to note street names of places you frequent such as shops, schools, parks, restaurants, clubs and sporting grounds. This could assist you to give more detailed information.
- If travelling on a Motorway or on a rural road, identify the direction you are travelling and the last exit or town you passed through.
- On trips to unfamiliar areas advise someone of your planned route.
- If there is a cordless phone at the address where the ambulance is required, ensure you take the handset with you when moving around the immediate vicinity.
When waiting for an ambulance to arrive
Before the ambulance arrives, you can help us in the following ways:
- Ensure there is a clear pathway to the entrance of your property. This may involve moving objects such as cars, pot plants or furniture. The paramedics may need to take a stretcher or equipment to where the patient is located.
- Lock away any pets.
- Pack any items of clothing or toiletries the patient may need in a small bag.
- Make sure you have all the patient's regular medication ready to hand over to the paramedics.
- It's always handy to have a medication list to give to the paramedics. Use NSW Ambulance's Personal Health Diary (PDF, 1912.76 KB) to keep a record of your health information and medications.
- If calling on behalf of your child, pack your child's Personal Health Record, also known as ‘the Blue Book'.
- If you have a chronic disease and have ‘My Health Record', also known as ‘the Red Book', or you have an Advanced Care Directive, pack this along with your belongings.
- Notify the paramedic of any allergies or special requirements you may have.
- Have a list of contact numbers such as family members or friends.
- Ensure you have all relevant pension or health cards.
- Do not take valuable items.
- Do not forget to take a set of property keys.
Have someone check that all doors and windows are locked and all electrical appliances are turned off.
From Non-English speakers, through workplace injuries, to retirees, we have programs that prepare adults for emergency situations.
Find out more in our community section.
It is important that every person understands how and when to call for emergency services, regardless of age.
Find out about programs in our community section which prepare children between the ages of 3-8 years for emergency situations.
Here are frequently asked questions regarding calling an ambulance:
Why do I have to pay for an ambulance?
NSW Ambulance is required to charge a fee for the service provided in accordance with the scale of fees approved by the NSW Ministry of Health. Ambulance has an obligation to recover payment of accounts due to the considerable costs involved in providing services, and follows up payments for outstanding accounts.
Will Medicare cover ambulance accounts?
No, Medicare doesn't cover the cost of the provision of ambulance services.
Who decides the fees for ambulance services?
NSW Ambulance fees are determined by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, and represent the actual cost of the provision of ambulance services. In NSW, all revenue earned through the charging of fees is used to provide ongoing funding for ambulance services within NSW.
Are any ambulance services provided free of charge?
Ambulance services in NSW are provided free of charge to concession card holders, including pensioners. NSW Ambulance also has a policy in place for patients who are under financial hardship and unable to pay for our services. ‘Ambulance only' insurance cover is available from major private health insurers in NSW to enable policy holders to avoid ambulance fees.
If I call Triple Zero (000) will an ambulance arrive straight away?
When you call Triple Zero (000), the control centre officer will ask you a series of questions. The answers you give will be used to determine the type of response required.
How does the control centre officer know if I need an ambulance?
Control centre officers are highly skilled and trained in using the internationally recognised Medical Priority Dispatch System. It's important that you answer the control centre officer's questions accurately, as your answers will determine the type of response.
I think I'm having a heart attack. How long will it take for an ambulance to arrive?
If you have a life-threatening condition, like chest pain or chest tightness, breathing difficulties, sudden numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, the nearest ambulance will be sent straight away under lights and sirens.
If an ambulance arrives, will I be taken to hospital?
Not every patient who is treated by a paramedic will be taken to hospital. Some patients will not require transport.
If I go by ambulance, will I be seen by a doctor sooner?
No. It's a common misconception that arriving at hospital in an ambulance will result in you receiving treatment sooner. All patients arriving at an emergency department are assessed, triaged, prioritised and treated according to their medical condition, whether they arrive by ambulance or other means.
I called Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance, therefore it's an emergency.
We understand that when people around you are sick and you don't know what to do, it can be very stressful. A life threatening emergency will always be given priority and responded to as an emergency. Ambulance Triple Zero (000) call takers are trained to provide first aid advice over the phone, so treatment of the patient can commence before an Ambulance is on scene.
What is secondary triage?
Secondary triage refers to a system whereby calls to Triple Zero (000) which are initially triaged as not requiring an emergency response, are transferred to a registered nurse who provides medical advice over the phone.
Is transferring me to secondary triage a way of getting rid of me?
No. The secondary triage process is conducted by registered nurses who provide expert advice and identify the right health service for your need.
Is transferring my call to secondary triage a cost saving mechanism?
No. Secondary triage is a way of providing the best care for a patient who doesn't require the emergency assistance of paramedics.
What if you transfer me to a secondary triage but my condition deteriorates?
If your call is transferred to the secondary triage service, your call will be answered by a registered nurse. The nurse can return the call to Triple Zero (000) at any time if they believe an ambulance is required.
I have an appointment at my local hospital, can an ambulance take me?
No. Ambulances are for medical emergencies only. Inappropriate calls to NSW Ambulance cost the community in dollars and lives.
Will the ambulance have its lights and sirens operating on the way to hospital?
Lights and sirens are only used during transport to hospital if the patient's condition is deemed as life-threatening or rapidly deteriorating.
Why don't ambulances always drive with lights and sirens?
Reducing the unnecessary use of lights and sirens improves road safety for paramedics, patients and the community.
If you're unsure what to do with an account you have received, contact the NSW Ambulance on 1300 655 200 (toll free). Only call NSW Ambulance in an emergency. Save Triple Zero (000) for Saving Lives.