When you ring 999 your call goes through to one of our three Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs). Our trained emergency call takers receive nearly 862,000 calls every year. We use a specialist computer system called NHS Pathways to determine the condition of the patient (this is known triaging a patient) so we can send the most appropriate response based on their clinical need. This might be an ambulance, or a single responder paramedic.
Some patients who have minor ailments do not require an immediate emergency response or may not need an emergency response at all. We have clinically qualified staff in our EOCs who are able to take more details and provide further advice over the phone. If necessary they can make referrals to other community healthcare professionals such as GPs or community nurses, or to social care professionals, ensuring every patient receives the most appropriate treatment for their need.
The chart below details what happens when we receive an emergency call. You can also see the video underneath to see how a 999 call is handled and responded to.