Emergency 999 service

East Midlands Ambulance Service provides the 999 emergency response for the region.

999 is the telephone number you should call when you need emergency medical assistance following a serious accident, illness or injury. For example, in the event of traumatic blood loss, chest pain or loss of consciousness.

When a 999 call is received in our Emergency Operations Centre, our call handlers will take details and decide what type of response is needed.  

You should not call 999 if the situation is not an emergency. 

For general health enquiries you should always contact your local GP practice, out-of-hours service, walk-in centre or pharmacist in the first instance. Alternatively, you can contact NHS 111 Online at 111.nhs.uk

What happens when you call 999?

When you call 999 and ask for an ambulance, you will be immediately connected to our highly-trained ambulance control centre team. 

They will ask you for details of the main problem, and then your location. Telephone numbers normally populate automatically on our system and so we do not routinely ask for telephone numbers.

While you are talking to our 999 call handler, our control room team will already be starting to arrange appropriate help for the patient.

Our team may need to ask some additional questions about the patient such as:

  • The patient’s age and gender
  • Whether the patient is breathing, conscious, and what the problem is
  • The type of injury and how it was sustained.

Asking these questions will not delay our response but does help us to offer advice if needed and also to ensure that we provide the most appropriate service to the patient.

If the patient’s condition is life-threatening, our technology means that we can instantly pass the information to the nearest available ambulance vehicle so that they can get to the patient as quickly as possible.

Where appropriate an ambulance will be dispatched. In some cases we will send a fast response car or a community first responder, who can get to the scene more quickly than a conventional ambulance and start to provide care immediately. All staff and volunteers wear uniform, and an identification badge to confirm who they are and what their role is at EMAS or the private ambulance service they work for.

Our control team will offer you advice on how to help the patient; if the condition is life-threatening they will usually remain on the phone with you until the emergency vehicle arrives.

If the patient's condition is not immediately life-threatening then our Clinical Assessment Team, made up of nurses, paramedics and mental health clinicians and based in our 999 control room, may call you back to carry out further assessments and to offer additional medical advice.

When we arrive on scene, our crew member/s will assess the patient’s clinical condition and treatment will be given as needed at the scene.

If necessary, the patient will be quickly transported to a hospital Emergency Department or to a specialist treatment centre (such as for head injuries, heart attacks or stroke).

In many cases patients do not need to be admitted to hospital and our crews can provide the treatment needed in the home or at the scene of the incident. 

After attending to the patient, our staff will make sure that their equipment and vehicle is clean again, stocked and ready to respond to another 999 call.

Non-life-threatening situations

In many cases, such as non-life-threatening situations, a ‘blue light’ emergency response from an ambulance is not needed. 

However, our control team can arrange for a paramedic or nurse triage advisor to call you back. They will carry out a full assessment of the patient’s condition over the phone and then advise the best treatment, such as being cared for at home, being referred to a GP, pharmacy or community-based care service.