Calling 999 Always call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. When you call 999, a BT operator will answer your call and ask: "Emergency, which service do you require? Fire, Police or Ambulance?" If your call is a medical emergency, you should ask for an ambulance. The operator will then put you through to the ambulance service. North West Ambulance Service utilises three Emergency Control Centres (ECC) across the North West, located in Manchester, Liverpool, and Preston. Our systems will attempt to route your call to your 'local' centre in the first instance. An Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) will answer your call and ask you firstly for your location. We use a number of tools to try to automatically locate you, such as mobile phone triangulation or subscriber information sent by your landline provider. Once we have your location we can begin to look for an emergency responder for your call whilst the EMD further triages your call for information to prioritise your call and give the best advice to help the patient until the ambulance arrives. Emergency 999 calls are prioritised into categories to ensure that the most life threatening cases receive the quickest response: Red 1 or Red 2 Green 1 / 2/ 3 /4 The ECC Dispatchers use the triage information to help decide what kind of response is needed and whether an ambulance is required. For example, they may send a rapid-response vehicle equipped to provide treatment at the scene of an accident, or a traditional ambulance if it is likely the patient will need to be conveyed to hospital for further treatment. Our Trust also makes use of Community First Responders, Commercial responders, Air Ambulance, Advanced Paramedic Triage, and Operational Commanders to complement the ambulance response if deemed appropriate. NWAS is committed to providing the most appropriate response for the situation, and takes the view that it is in the patient's best interest that our services our deliver the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Urgent calls We also receive Urgent calls from GPs and other health professionals, requesting ambulance transport for their patients. The response to these calls is tailored to each individual patient's need as determined by the doctor or health professional requesting the ambulance. For GP urgent calls, the Ambulance Service aims to arrive at hospital within 15 minutes of the time stipulated by the GP. It is important to appreciate that although the patient is often termed an 'emergency admission' a GP may give the ambulance service two hours or more to carry out the journey and so it is not necessarily dealt with as a 999 call. Non-emergencies In addition to dealing with emergency care, we provide a range of other emergency, urgent and planned healthcare and transport services. This includes non-emergency Patient Transport Services (PTS). PTS is the provision of free transport for patients with a medical need for transport to, from and between healthcare providers. This year's targets As in previous years, we will still be expected to reach the Government targets of: 75 per cent of Category A calls within eight minutes; and 95 per cent of Category A calls within 19 minutes. Although we are not required to formally report on response times to Category C calls, these will still be very closely monitored. Ambulance services are not measured simply on time alone, but on how we treat patients and the outcomes of the treatment. For the first time this year, we will also be reporting on our performance against the national set of 11 new clinical quality indicators. The Indicators allow us to identify areas of good practice and areas which need improvement. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT A large percentage of patients who call for an ambulance can be dealt with more effectively in their local community by their GP, NHS Direct or an Out of Hours Service. Please think before you call an ambulance and remember you should only call in a real emergency - for example when someone has chest pain, difficulty in breathing, severe abdominal pain, collapsed, had a serious accident or fall, or overdosed. The emergency call process depends on the availability of a number of key resources to get help to you as quickly as possible. Our EMDs are always busy answering calls, our ambulance crews are rarely stood still. Making an inappropriate call can cost a life. IMPORTANT POINT Arriving by ambulance will not automatically reduce your time in the Accident and Emergency Department. Emergency ambulances are not taxis.