999 doesn't always mean an ambulance or a trip to hospital... ...it's about getting you the right care, at the right time, in the right place. We provide emergency services to those in need of medical treatment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and employ over 5,100 staff. Watch the North West Ambulance Service in action, on road, on foot, over the phone and in the sky, in the film above... Meet the team featured... Mike - Emergency Medical Dispatcher Working within our Emergency Operations Centres, Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) answer 999 calls from the public. Working quickly and calmly, EMDs take essential details about the patient's condition and the exact location of the incident. Q. What does a call taker do? As a 999 call taker, it's my job to find out the location of the emergency before anything else. This is so that the right help can be organised immediately. I will then ask a number of questions to find out what the problem is and how we can help. Q. How are calls prioritised? I will ask the caller a series of questions from our internationally recognised computer system. I log the answers on the system and then the incident is given a priority rating. It is the priority rating, or call category, that tells us how to respond. Q. Can you do anything to help over the phone? In serious cases, I might ask the caller to stay on the line so I can give help and advice over the phone until the ambulance gets there. For example, I can tell someone how to give CPR during a cardiac arrest. Simon - Specialist Paramedic, Urgent Care Desk Specialist Paramedics, based in our Emergency Operations Centres, call back some patients to carry out clinical assessment over the phone. They may refer patients away from emergency departments, towards more suitable care, if that's what's best for them. Q. How does the specialist paramedic role differ from that of a call taker? We are clinically trained, so can assess patients over the phone to work out where they will get the best treatment, just like paramedics on the road. Q. How do you work out what is the best treatment for patients over the phone? We do a clinical assessment over the phone by asking questions to identify the problem and the seriousness of the illness or injury. If an ambulance isn't necessary, we will refer patients to an NHS service in the community or give them self-care advice. Q. Why aren't ambulances sent to all incidents? An ambulance response isn't always the best option for patients, nor is an emergency department. There are a vast range of NHS services available to treat patients whose conditions are not immediately life-threatening. Our aim is get patients the right care, in the right place and at the right time. Jo - Dispatcher If a response from the ambulance service is appropriate, the Dispatchers' role is to send the nearest resource(s) to help patients. This could be an ambulance, rapid response vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, helicopter or community first responder. Q. What does the role of ambulance dispatcher involve? Dispatchers send the most suitable response to incidents received via 999 calls. It's our job to get resources to patients within given time frames; ensuring targets are met or exceeded. Q. How do you know which resource to send? All incidents are prioritised based on the answers given by the caller during the 999 call. Dispatchers monitor the calls and arrange for the right response. In a remote location, this could be a helicopter or a community first responder. In a city with lots of people, a bicycle might get there in the quickest time. Ambulances are always on the move and don't always make it back to their base station during a shift. We have a computer mapping system which shows were all the resources are at all times. Ruth - Ambulance Technician | Pete - Ambulance Paramedic Working as a crew on an ambulance, Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians respond to emergency and urgent situations. One member of the crew will take the lead at each incident by asking the patient questions. They will record the answers on a confidential patient report form and, if the patient is taken to hospital by the ambulance crew, this will be handed in there. The patient report form shows nursing staff them what the problem is and how the ambulance crew has helped. Q. What does the ambulance crew do on arrival at the incident? Our job is to assess the patient, to work out the best course of action and then give appropriate care and treatment. We will make decisions about where patients should receive further treatment. This could be an Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre, a nurse or GP in the community or at home with self-care advice. Q. Why not take all patients to the Emergency Department? If the patient needs to go the hospital emergency department, that's where we will take them. For some patients, being seen by a community based health professional, who already manages the illness, is much more helpful than a trip to the emergency department. We may ask a GP or community nurse to visit our patients. It's all about getting the patients the right care, in the right place and at the right time. Simon - Senior Paramedic The ambulance service uses cars, known as Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs), staffed by one clinician such as a Senior Paramedic, to respond to emergencies. Cars move through the traffic quicker than ambulances so can get to the most serious cases and start treatment before the ambulance arrives. They may also be sent to less serious incidents to assess the patient to see if an ambulance is needed. Q. What's the difference between a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) and an ambulance? The car carries much of the same kit as an ambulance, but is staffed by just one clinician. It can move through traffic quicker than an ambulance, so the paramedic on board can get to patients much quicker. Q. When might an RRV be sent to help? Because of the ability to move through traffic quickly, I will often be sent to the most serious incidents, such as heart attacks, to start treatment before the ambulance arrives. The ambulance will then take the patient to hospital, if this is needed. Q. How many patients can be treated at home instead of having to go to hospital? Last year, over 15% of patients were treated safely at home, without the need to go to hospital. Alex - Paramedic, Hazardous Area Response Team Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) members have specialist training to allow them to respond to major incidents. Q. What is the role of the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART)? The role of the HART is to triage and treat casualties, and to save lives, in difficult circumstances. The team also has a role in looking after other emergency service staff who may become injured whilst at incidents. Q. What type of incidents do you respond to? We are trained to go to major incidents which may involve Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN), Explosives (E) or other hazardous material. We also respond to other complex incidents such as train crashes, large-scale motorway accidents, building collapses, significant fires or flooding. Alan - Community First Responder Community First Responders (CFR) are volunteers who are trained and sent by the ambulance service to help patients in life-threatening situations such as cardiac arrest, before the arrival of the ambulance. Q. What do Community First Responders do? CFRs volunteer for the ambulance service. We give up some of our time to go to life-threatening emergencies in the local community. If there is an emergency in the local area, CFRs are alerted by the ambulance service and will go to help, often arriving before the ambulance crew. We carry a defibrillator, oxygen and first aid equipment. Q. What training have you done? All CFRs are trained by the ambulance service and do refresher training on a regular basis. No prior medical knowledge is needed. We can help in situations such as cardiac arrest, chest pains, difficulty breathing, allergic reactions, diabetic and epileptic collapse and choking. Q. Would you recommend the role? It's a rewarding role and allows me to give something back to the local community. CFRs can make a real difference - we save lives.