How to Call an Ambulance

Sometimes the decision to call an ambulance is necessary, but it can be tricky to know when or how to make the call.

Dr Lyann Gross, Clinical Lead for Urgent & Emergency Care has selected her top tips. If you have any queries or feedback, please email her.

Clinicians should use the Health Care Professionals (HCP) line to call for an ambulance (unless the patient is in cardiac arrest) – t: 020 3162 7525.


Before making the call:

  • Consider the kind of response your patient needs – is their condition immediately life-threatening? The London Ambulance Service have four categories of response (with different time responses). These categories are as follows (see useful resources for full details):
    • Category 1 response (life-threatening event) such as cardiac arrest or continuous fitting – if you feel your patient needs a category 1 response dial 999
    • Category 2 response (emergency–potentially serious incident) such as stroke or chest pain
    • Category 3 response (urgent problem) such as falls or abdominal pain
    • Category 4 response (less urgent problem) like diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Does your patient need intervention en-route? If not, please ask for non-emergency transport (NETS) – non-emergency ambulances have  a stretcher, oxygen and a defibrillator. This service will often be quicker and eases the strain on emergency ambulances.

When making the call:

  • Clinicians should use the Health Care Professionals (HCP) line to call for an ambulance (unless the patient is in cardiac arrest) – the HCP line is staffed by specially trained call handlers and will make triaging the call easier. The HCP number is – t: 020 3162 7525
  • Clinicians should call themselves, rather than asking a receptionist or another colleague – accurate clinical information and will enable the patient to get the correct response.
  • Make a note of the CAD number and if the patients condition changes, call back and quote the CAD number.
  • If you are offered a response that you don’t feel is appropriate please ask to speak to a clinician in the HUB.
  • If you have called for a blue-lights ambulance stay with the patient (or ask an alternative clinician to stay with them) until the ambulance arrives. If they are unwell enough to need a category one/two response they should be monitored.
  • Make sure you are available to hand the patient over to the crew – otherwise vital information may be missed.

For more information visit the London Ambulance Service website.