Is it really better to call an ambulance?

I'm so confused and don't really trust what everyone says.

My husband says if he got hurt, I better just call the ambulance. I tell him I'd rather him drive me to the hospital. I know the correct procedure is to call for help because they can offer immediate attn/care, but... I need help with believing that.

If our hospital is 20-25 min. away (w/o speeding), wouldn't it take the ambulance longer to get here than it would for my husband to race there (assuming i had to get there, like a heart attack).

What if it takes 10-15 minutes for the ambulance to get to my house?
It would take my husband 10-15 minutes to get me to the hospital and get care. ...but the ambulance would just be getting to my house, and then have another 10-15 minutes to speed to the hospital. While they can offer me "some care," I imagine it's only a little, and they're not doctors...

I guess every since my friend's son stopped breathing and she DROVE to the hospital and got yelled at by the doctors, it's been on my mind.

I know there are people here who can help me understand why I should bother calling with 911. I understand in cases I am hurt and no one is here to drive me...
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The advantage to waiting for the ambulance is they can rescue if you need it. They are trained for emergencies and can start treatment before you get to the ED. They can also alert the ED you are coming so they will be ready for you. If your husband is driving you he can't look out for you and drive too. If you should suddenly get worse while he is driving you are still going to have to wait for help.
Don't put your DH in that position if you can help it. Leave it to the Pros.
It was always my opinion even though I could drive someone to the hospital faster, sitting in the waiting room for 3 to 4 hrs; You could get seen much, much quicker by having the ambulance come and pick up the patient and they go directly in the emergency room. No waiting.

Hmmmm - yep, call the ambulance. :wink:
Listening to Brian regarding his ambo overtime shifts....heres what i have gathered.....

DO call the ambulance if....

someone is bleeding profusely, stopped breathing, having a heart attack, stroke or seizure

DONT call the ambulance if....

your tattoo is bleeding, you winch broke so you cant get your wife into the car, youre drunk and had an argument with your significant other, youve burned your finger, singed your hair trying to light the stove, too lazy to drive your pregnant daughter to the hospital because your favorite show was on and many other dumb things i cant remember....

In other words, use your common sense....if you, your spouse or child needs immediate attention (REAL attention) Always call an ambulance....If it is NOT potentially life threating, drive yourself......
To keep me in business.

9-1-1 Dispatcher, EMT-B, EMD, EPD

If you are not breathing, choking, bleeding or delivering a baby are the main reasons to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. The 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained in walking you through the appropriate steps to care for yourself or the injured person. In the time it takes to get to your residence, which depends on where you live, urban, suburban, rural, etc, you or a family member can start the care which could save the patient's life.

EVERY SINGLE developed country in this world follows the same emergency protocols for certified 9-1-1 dispatch centers. (P.S. it is always written 9-1-1 due to a court case where someone sued and won their case due to the fact that they could not find the 11 on the phone and that's how it was written down. :roll: ) Here is a link for the emergency dispatch website: ... dsets_more this shows a general rundown of what happens on the other end of the phone when you call 9-1-1.

The people you call are also trained professionals. Emergency medicine is a widely respected field that comes with an incredible amount of training. It's not the 70's anymore with the "throw and go" attitude where fast driving is all that matters. We actually have toys that make lifesaving possible in a moving vehicle. Everything it takes to treat a cardiac arrest is available to EMS personnel. All the first round drugs, the same AED that they do in the ER which allows you to view the heart rhythms, deliver the "shock" and pace the heart as well as the tools that put the tubes in people so that they can breathe. They can also decompress chests, treat drug overdoses, splint broken bones (including necks, backs and long bones) and treat just about any other condition that may arise. There is just about no senario that you can throw out there that that ambulance can't handle. It is just a tiny, rolling ER.

Also, the worst thing on the scene of an emergency is the family. When they have something happen to someone that they love and they freak out, they do more harm than good by not calling for assistance. The dispatcher is trained in how to calm people and direct them to actually do what they need to do in order to help. The ambulance staff is also trained in how to keep the family calm all while doing what they need to do. The worst thing to deal with on the scene of an emergency is a family member who is freaking out and getting in the way. Can you imagine that person getting in a car and trying to operate it while in that stated of mind? That's really doing a lot of good for their loved one. We have actually hidden people's keys so that they had to ride with us in the ambulance or had the police "forbid" them to drive until someone could take them or until they calmed down. If you freak out while driving your loved one and wreck what happens? Not only is their care delayed but now they need an ambulance, so do you and so does anyone else that you might have hurt while driving like an idiot trying to get to help.

Allow me to give you some numbers. From the time the 9-1-1 call is answered the dispatcher should have the first piece of apparatus on the street within ONE minute. (When you call 9-1-1 let the dispatcher take control and answer all the questions to the best of your ability. They are asked for a REASON.) The average time it takes for an ambulance to reach an urban or suburban residence is 6 minutes. (If we ever had a 6 minute response time to any suburban area we were ashamed of ourselves. There's a reason those lights and sirens are on the trucks!) (And another little EMS friendly tip: Move to the right for sirens and lights!)

One last little thing. EMS people have to constantly renew their skills to keep their certifications. An EMT cert is good for 3 years and you have a designated number of continuing education hours in each area that you have to complete in order to maintain your certification. For all of this work do you know how much the average EMT makes? About 10 dollars an hour. ... ician_(EMT)_%2F_Paramedic/Salary
Suppose you're walking a person to the car, and they pass out or something, and fall to the ground. If you can't lift him/her and the temperature outside is extremly hot or cold, you're now dealing with two emergency situations.

There are too many things that can happen between the scene and the hospital to rely on ourselves to make the trip, unless absolutely necessary. A car can break down. They could stop breathing, and you can't drive and give assistance at the same time.

In the ambulance you have experienced Paramedics and EMT's that can assist the patient reguardless of the situation.
Okay, well now I feel more confident about trusting them to arrive to my house.

I just always watch tv and it actually makes me upset when the operator is calm. lol I know the police or ambulance are on their way, but I know "I" stress they're not going fast enough or can't find my place!!!!

My place is super hard to find because it's a new place and isn't listed on maps or on gps stuff. People don't even deliver here sometimes because they tell me I don't exist. :lol:
As an EMT and an RN who deals with Cardiac patients on a daily basis I cannot say strongly enough


People die every day because someone decided it was "faster" to drive them to the hospital. Just recently a person in my community died from a heart atack. He was having chest pain at home and his wife decided it was faster to drive him to the hospital than to call the ambualnce. On the way to the hospital he "passed out", actually what hapened was he experienced a lethal ventricular arrhythmia and died. The wife didn't know what to do, she pulled over thinking she could revive him. No such luck. A passing motorist stopped and called 911. But by then it was too late.

Had she called 911 at the first sign of Chest Pain the EMT's and Paramedics would most likely have been there before the arrest occurred. Would he have lived? I don't the answer to that. But I do know that he would have had a far greater chance of survival with trained professionals at his side than slumped in a car at the side of the road.

Family memebers are too emotionally involved to drive the patient to the hospital, the risk of accident on the way increases dramatically with the level of anxiety.

ALWAYS call an ambulance for difficulty breathing, chest pain, major trauma, uncontrolled bleeding or sign of a stroke.
Very important!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In addition to the great advice above, make sure your
house number is large and clearly visible.
Some communities sell numbers on a reflective background
you can place on your mailbox or on a post on your driveway.

Bottom line, help the EMTs find YOU!

One of the biggest complaints I have heard EMTs and
fireman talk about is houses with no house numbers.
This is a big problem in some rural areas were many mailboxes
also have no numbers.
zahra wrote:
Very important!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In addition to the great advice above, make sure your
house number is large and clearly visible.

As someone who spent many years delivering pizza, that's excellent advice for those who bring food to you, too. I always hated when people lived in the middle of nowhere, or in new places, but had no identifying address anywhere.

It was always very surprising to me how many adults did NOT know where they lived. I can't tell you how many times over the years that I had to coax someone to find a piece of mail to give me a house address. One time, I had a woman hand me her phone when I got to her house and ask me to explain to her friend on the other end of the phone how to get to her house. Remember no one can come help you if you can't even give them a street address ( assuming you're using a phone that won't allow an address to be linked to it, like a cell).
How about one of those flashing bulbs for the front porch? It has a little chip embedded that flashes the bulb if the switch is turned on twice quickly (like on-off-on)?

I've though about getting one, but directions to my current home are extremely simple.

About 9 years ago my wife needed some emergency care for low blood sugar. The EMTs were great -- but unable to start an IV because they weren't yet certified by the state. The best they could do was to give glucose by mouth. I had more sophisticated tools and abilities, but I wasn't home at the time.

The next time they came, about a year ago, I had already used my tools and abilities for a while but was still unable to raise her blood glucose to normal levels, plus her body temperature was critically low (neither they nor I knew this at the time). They started an IV, pushed glucose and still couldn't raise it. They asked me for a decision on transport.

"Let's go."

The ED was unable to get a body temperature for close to an hour with their fancy electronic thermomenters which insist it must be an error. Bring back anaolg thermometers!

The most recent episode I did all the same things but this time I supplied a constant stream of hot blankets from the dryer, mimicking the the hot air warming floor-model hair-dryer fancy thingamajiggy that the ED had. :D

Live and learn. Diabetics are on our own at this point with our medical system.

PS The "gold standard" for hospital fingerstick assays of blood glucose, the same units used in ambulances and hospital floors and EDs are old and crappy. They require FAR too much blood and take WAY too long to give a result.
Yes, definitely call the ambulance.

There's a reason they call them WAITING rooms.
But if it was that big of an emergency, why would I have to wait longer than I would if I came in an ambulance? Wouldn't I be first in line? At least I know at a military hospital, I can't imagine someone having a bigger emergency in the waiting room than me (if they're waiting, it's always a cold or something that isn't 911 worthy). I have never been at a civilian hospital except when I was born, which I don't remember, and just recently for lil J ...and that was just a small clinic for colds and stuff.

Either way, dont worry... I'm definitely convinced now to call 911 first. ;)
A person arriving in an ambulance is brought directly back to be seen, while people "out front" are seen by a triage nurse.

If the situation is critical in the triage nurse's opinion, you will be brought back immediately.

The point is that the ambulance can probably get to your house faster than you can get to the hospital, and has the ability to save your loved one's life the moment they arrive. In fact they might actually be more prepared to instantly react to your emergency than an ED who would have to gather the proper personnel to serve you.

My "lay person's" guess.
One thing you might do if you're unsure whether they can find your house, or how long it would take them to arrive there in an emergency, is to call them.

AS SOON AS they answer tell them this is a "non-emergency" call. Make a list of the questions you have, such as their ETA, and have the directions to your house written out in front of you when you call. You don't want to tie up the line, so quickly tell them the purpose of your call.

You might even make the drive from your home to wherever they'll be coming from to see what the fastest route is, along with ALL the names of the streets or roadmarks they might need in finding your house. I would also include the name of the former occupant if you just moved in if you know it.

Years ago we'd just moved into a house and us kids knew the name of the road, but not the address. Our Grandparent's were babysitting us while our mom and step dad were on their honeymoon. Within a few days Grandpa had a stroke, so we called 9-1-1. We were able to give directions with the dispatchers help.

When the paramedics finally got there, their response was, "Well if you'd have told it was "so and so's" house we'd have known right where you were. We didn't know "so and so's name either." I'll never forget the disgust in his voice. (It's hard to help if you can't get there)

For us, it is. The hospital is at least 30 minutes away in light traffic. The ambulance station is right next door - well, literally it's two houses away. Regardless, it'd get here a heck of a lot faster than it would take to drive there.

Also, when we lost our daughter, we called 911 for an ambulance. It took them about 20 minutes to arrive, but firemen, volunteer rescue workers, and EMTs that heard it over their radios came to our home & started doing CPR and had an oxygen tank on her within 2-3 minutes of making the call (our neighbor was a fireman who had EMT skills and his wife was a nurse) so they heard it and ran over to our house. Unfortunately with SIDS, it did no good, but had it been something else, it may have saved her life.
Definitely call 911. What if your significant other is having a heart attack and goes into cardiac arrest? How are you going to do CPR while you are driving? What if your relative is in SVT?(supra ventricular tachycardia) are you going to know to tell them to bare down or give them adenosine? Most people have a horrible perception about EMTs. EMTs are highly trained in emergency situations. So much so that they do not need a doctors orders like nurses do to perform a skill. Paramedics can intubate, perform needle decompressions, surgical cricothyrotemies and give narcotics without a doctor giving orders for it first. I agree with the above information. IF it is a true emergency then please call 911. Do not call if you have the flu. Also, most ambulance service will call in the pt as a triage pt if they are not critically ill, meaning: DO NOT call the ambulance just to get seen quicker. If you call because you have the flu they will put you in triage to wait. In conclusion I agree with all of the great adice that has already been given.

do not pass the ambulance going faster than the Speed limit. They do have radios in the front and can call your license plate number in.
Also to the Ron with the diabetic post, some counties do not require paramedics to be on the ambulance. They can be ECA's or EMT-basics which means that they are not certified to start iv's. THat is up to the county you live in.
Ron wrote:
A person arriving in an ambulance is brought directly back to be seen, while people "out front" are seen by a triage nurse.

If the situation is critical in the triage nurse's opinion, you will be brought back immediately.

And sometimes, it takes forever to get to the point where you are actually seen by that triage nurse.
Boy- this is an OLD one! Jo- what are your thoughts on calling the squad now-- 6 years later? :lmt:
From experience, CALL THE AMBULANCE! Do NOT hesitate. CaLL 911! They will find your house and they will stay on the line. the EMTs are trained to do whatever they need to do on their way to the hospital. And you will be brought right in by ambulance - instead of waiting forever in the lobby if you bring yourself in.

I had the unfortunate experience of needing an ambulance quite often when my Mom was still alive and quite sick. Every time we called, they were here immediately and she was brought in immediately. The EMTs told us never think twice about calling the ambulance. that is what they are for.

By the way, while waiting for my Mom, after she came in by ambulance and was being tested, someone came in screaming that her husband was in the car and she drove him to the ER...he had a heart attack. And he passed away...

Don't hesitate to call...and put on your front lights so they can find you easily...Hope you never need to make that decision.
Just a little history lesson, when Princess Diana was involved in the tragic car accident, the French did not have EMTs in their ambulances. Their thinking was the "scoop and scoot" technique, quickly move the patient to the hospital, no pretreatment. Many doctors feel she might have lived if she had had EMTs at the accident site starting treatment immediately. I don't know where they are now in emergency services.
They only make $10 AN HOUR?! That is horrible!!!
Abuckie wrote:
Boy- this is an OLD one! Jo- what are your thoughts on calling the squad now-- 6 years later? :lmt:


It is weird to see things pop up from so long ago ....sometimes I can't believe what I asked when I go back to the beginning and find my first threads.
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