When to Actually Call An Ambulance.

When to Actually Call An Ambulance.

Each call to 000 for an ambulance costs money.

A survey of 1500 Australians, commissioned by comparethemarket.com.au, revealed 25 per cent of respondents worryingly believed ambulance rides were free for “all emergencies, across all states”.

Consider the cost of those unnecessary call outs to ambulance services across Australia. Consider too, the overwhelming demand on an already overstretched emergency service responding to trivial and non-life threatening calls.

Victorian ambulance rides attract a standard cost of $1204, yet 37 per cent of Victorians believed trips free or under $300 and 55 per cent under $500.

Western Australians face a flat fee of $949, while other states charge initial call-out fees and then distance-based extra charges.

In South Australia, it’s $955, plus $5.50/km, while the ACT call-out is $936, then $12/km for travel outside of the ACT.

NSW ambulances cost $372, plus $3.35/km, capped at $6095. This may not affect those close to hospitals, but $6000 for those in remote areas could break the bank. In NSW, 46 per cent thought ambulance rides were free or under $300.

Read on for our guide to when to ACTUALLY call an ambulance.

Call an ambulance for REAL emergencies such as but not limited to:

  • chest pain or chest tightness
  • sudden onset of weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
  • breathing difficulties
  • unconsciousness
  • uncontrollable bleeding
  • sudden collapse or unexplained fall
  • unexplained fitting in adults
  • injury from a major car accident
  • falling from a great height
  • serious assault including stabbing or shooting
  • severe burns, particularly in young children
  • infants that are fitting or have an ongoing fever

If the casualty is unconscious

  • If they are breathing, roll them into the recovery position (on their side so that their tongue falls forward in their mouth and any vomit can drain away), trying not to twist their neck or spine at all. Any head injury may well have caused spinal damage as the head recoils from the blow.
  • If they are not breathing start CPR.
  • Call for an ambulance.

When to Call an Ambulance

If the casualty is conscious and has a serious head injury

  • Phone 000 for an ambulance
  • Do your best to keep the casualty calm and still – make sure they do not twist, as they could have a spinal injury
  • If there is bleeding, grab a clean cloth and apply pressure
  • Do not attempt to clean the wound as it could make things worse
  • Do not apply forceful direct pressure to the wound if you suspect the skull is fractured
  • Do not remove any object that’s stuck in the wound

When to Call an Ambulance


It is strongly advised that you attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Visit www.hotresponsefa.com.au  for more information about our practical and online courses and to access free resources.

Hot Response First Aid Training provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Hot Response First Aid Training is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

Avoiding Medication Problems

1. Be actively involved in understanding health conditions and prescribed medications:

  • Talk with the healthcare providers
  • Ask questions
  • Read trustworthy, reputable online sites
  • Join health support groups
  • It is important that everyone involved in the care of an individual is active in understanding their condition, their medication and all the options available to treat them.

2. Have medication and/or a list of medications available at all times to show health professionals in case an accident occurs.

3. Write a medication list that includes:

  • Names of all medications (including any over the counter medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies)
  • The doctor who prescribed each prescription medication
  • The purpose of each medication or the symptoms the medication is supposed to treat
  • Size and frequency of dosage
  • Should they be taken on a full or empty stomach?
  • When repeat prescriptions are required
  • Be sure to update the list if taking something new, a medicine is stopped, or the dose is changed. GPs and pharmacists should review all medications regularly. Remind them of any allergies or problems encountered with certain medicines.
  • Don’t stop taking prescribed medicine without checking with them first.

Avoiding Medication Problems

Know the following about each drug taken:

  • Medication name, exact spelling, purpose and whether it is the brand name or a generic substitution
  • The medication’s side effects and interactions and what to do if they occur
  • How and when to take the medication (i.e. on an empty stomach, after meals or at bed time etc.)
  • How long the medication is to be continued and if any blood tests are required for periodic monitoring
  • What to do if you miss or forget a dosage
  • How to store your medications (in a refrigerator or at room temperature etc.)
  • Read the information leaflets provided in the packaging of the medicine. These provide important information to help understand the medication and avoid problems.

For example:

  • What the medicine has been prescribed for
  • How to take the medicine correctly
  • Possible side effects and any interaction with other medications or food substances
  • Interaction with alcohol
  • Information on who shouldn’t take the medicine
  • Serious side effects that mean medication should be stopped
  • Information as to who is at an increased risk of suffering side effects
  • Storage instructions


It is strongly advised that you attend a practical first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Hot Response First Aid training provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Hot Response First Aid is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

8 common misconceptions about CPR & cardiac arrest

8 common misconceptions about CPR & cardiac arrest

1. A heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same thing.

A cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack. They are different conditions and require different treatments. A heart attack happens when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked due to fatty deposits. The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen.

A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally.  Many cardiac arrests in adults happen because of a heart attack because their heart has develop an abnormal heart rhythm which can lead to a cardiac arrest.


2. Don’t perform CPR on a casualty if you haven’t been trained.

If you have not been trained to perform CPR, Hot Response First Aid Training & Consultancy recommends that everyone attempts chest compressions when assisting with a cardiac arrest casualty.

The first three minutes after a cardiac arrest are the most important therefore it is essential that bystander CPR is performed. Ambulance dispatches will always provide instructions on how to carry out chest compressions over the phone.

3. You do not need to perform rescue breaths when performing CPR.

There has been some confusion for many years now that rescue breaths should not be provided when performing CPR, with popular television adverts regarding bystander CPR adding to some of that uncertainty.

Someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest will still have 3 or 4 minutes’ worth of oxygenated blood residing in their system and it is vitally important to pump this blood throughout the casualty’s body by means of chest compressions.  After this period of time, the oxygenated blood will deplete and the importance of breathing for the casualty becomes crucial to aiding the casualty’s survival. Two rescue breaths should be given after every 30 compressions.

If a child suffers a cardiac arrest, it is very important for a First Aider to provide 5 rescue breaths first as a child’s body does not retain oxygenated blood the same way as adults.  These 5 breaths should then be followed by 30 compressions and then continue with 2 rescue breaths and 30 compressions until emergency crews arrives.

However, due to infection control risks we recognise that some people may be unable or unwilling to provide rescue breaths for an unresponsive casualty who is not breathing normally, and therefore strongly recommend delivering chest compressions only. Always use an approved face shield when providing rescue breaths.

4. If a person is alone, they can avoid a cardiac arrest by coughing.

There has been information circulating on social media claiming that a person who is alone can avoid a cardiac arrest by coughing to prevent the condition getting worse. This information is false and should not be followed. If you go into cardiac arrest there is no way to ‘stop’ this.

5. A casualty can die if CPR is delivered incorrectly.

If a person is at the point of receiving CPR, technically they are already dead. CPR and defibrillation is the single most effective treatment for a cardiac arrest. CPR can only help the casualty at this point, even if it is not performed perfectly.

In the event of a cardiac arrest, it is better to attempt some form of CPR than nothing at all.

6. You can be sued for performing CPR.

Some people are scared to perform CPR as they are concerned that they may hurt the person who needs treatment or be sued for their actions. Although there is the ‘Good Samaritan’ law in Australia, which protects a first aider who acts in good faith and within their level of training.

7. It takes too long to learn CPR.

Hot Response First Aid Training & Consultancy run a short two hour course covering CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

8. You can contract HIV/AIDS from delivering rescue breaths during CPR.

People can be reluctant to deliver full CPR (30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths) to a stranger at the risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. This is highly unlikely to happen as HIV and AIDS can only be spread through direct contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. However, we recommend using a face shield to avoid any infection control risks. If in doubt, commence CPR only until emergency crews arrive.

Know the dangers of button batteries!

Know the dangers of button batteries – and what a swallowed battery could do to your child’s inside’s.

Button batteries burn. The damage is noticeable within just 30 minutes and if the child does not receive immediate medical help, they may die. Often, the first anyone knows that a button battery has been swallowed is when the child starts vomiting blood – but this is usually too late!

The dangers of button batteries:

We all remember having fun with science experiments as children … watching a bottle of cola explode when a mento mint was dropped in it – and seeing the enamel on a tooth disappear before our eyes when left in fizzy pop overnight.  A far more important experiment that we should all be doing with our kids though, is one where a small, round ‘button’ battery is left on a slice of ham for a few hours.  This represents what would happen to a person’s insides if they were to swallow one.  The process is staggering to watch.  It outlines just how vital it is to keep these batteries out of the reach of babies, toddlers and small children.

Button batteries and lithium coin batteries are the small, round, batteries you find in toys, cards, watches, key fobs, calculators, hearing aids and numerous other everyday objects. They look to be totally harmless and you would think that if they were swallowed, that they would pass straight through and out the other end.  Whist sometimes the battery can come out the other end, with no problem, sadly it is usually not the case.

What would happen if one was swallowed?:

With batteries being needed in ever more electronic gadgets around the home, hospitals are reporting an increase in life-changing injuries resulting from these innocent-looking culprits. These batteries are commonly found in toys, key fobs and even greetings cards. If the battery is swallowed and gets stuck at any point in its journey; then it continues to emit its charge (even if it was already considered to be ‘dead’ when swallowed).  This creates corrosive caustic soda which burns through the tissue and causes horrendous damage and internal bleeding.

Lithium batteries:

Lithium coin batteries are particularly dangerous.  They have a higher voltage and so release more energy and are more corrosive.  Fatal damage can therefore occur in just a couple of hours.  In most cases, parents have no idea their child has swallowed a battery until they start vomiting blood, by which time it is often too late to help as irreparable damage has already occurred.

An experiment to illustrate the dangers:

This video experiment is to show what a button battery would do to a slice of ham in just 90 minutes.  To mimic a battery being swallowed, saliva was added to the battery and it was enclosed in cling film to be enclosed, as in the body – and the results were shocking.

So … what can be done?
Prevention and vigilance are key:
  • Always check that battery compartments on electronic gadgets are securely fastened (usually with a screw).
  • If a battery is missing and you think it likely your child may have swallowed it, take your child to A&E for an x-ray to be sure.
  • If a battery compartment isn’t secured with a screw; ensure the gadget is kept safely out of the reach of children. Avoid buying products that do not conform to AU safety standards.
  • Store spare batteries carefully; somewhere inaccessible to children, ideally in a high-up, lockable cupboard. Button batteries are potentially as dangerous as medicines and your cleaning products and should be treated as such.
  • Inform your whole family about the dangers of button batteries.
  • Recycle used batteries safely, as these too are dangerous
If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery, act fast:
  • Take them to your nearest A&E as quickly as possible
  • Tell the triage nurse that you think they have swallowed a battery.  Take the gadget with you so the staff can identify the type of battery you are worried about.
  • Do not wait for any signs or symptoms
  • Do not try to make them sick
  • Make sure you do not give them anything to eat or drink.  They may need an anaesthetic in order to be operated on


Your child will be x-rayed to establish whether the battery is there or not and if so, where it is lodged. If necessary, they will be taken for an operation to remove the battery as a matter of urgency.

Please do follow this advice on how to prevent accidents happening in the first place.  Also spread the word on how to keep children safe around button batteries.

Hot Response First Aid Training provides this information for guidance only.  It is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Hot Response First Aid Training is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

Triple Zero kids challenge app

Triple Zero kids challenge app

Triple Zero kids challenge is a free app available for Apple, Android and Windows. Children engage in scenarios teaching them how to handle different emergencies.There are 9 different safety scenarios to explore, including simulated 000 calls.


Triple Zero kids challenge

The game looks at key things children should know in an emergency, from basic information like their addresses and telephone numbers to escape routes and safe meeting points. Parents can benefit from these as well if they had not considered them before. Children are taught to stay relevant when making calls. They are also shown the cost of making prank calls to these services.

There are scenarios for calling, police, fire and ambulance. By playing these scenarios repeatedly children call develop the necessary skills and confidence that they may need in an emergency.

Triple Zero Ambulance Emergency

Triple Zero Kids Challenge

Scenarios include dealing with a medical emergency like a suspected heart attack.

They are talked through the questions they will be asked.

  • Police, fire or ambulance.
  • What is your exact address? How to identify your location if the adress is unknown is also covered.)
  • What phone number are you calling from?
  • What is the emergency?
  • Tell me exactly what is wrong.
  • Are there other adults who can help you?


  • Always stay on the phone.
  • Do you know if the person takes special medicine?
  • Can you find it?
  • Can you help him take it?

Stay calm and talk clearly.

Understanding unconsciousness and how to get a response are also discussed.

Users are shown how to make emergency calls if a phone is locked.


Do you really need an ambulance?

The app looks at the difference between situations that require emergency services and those requiring simple first aid (refered to as big accidents and small accidents.)


Triple Zero Fire emergencies

Triple Zero Kids Challenge Fire

The following issues are covered in these scenarios.

  • What is your escape plan?
  • Every room needs two escape routes.
  • When there is smoke get down low and move.
  • Close the doors behind you.
  • Leave keys in deadlocks.
  • Know how to get out safely.
  • First aid treatment for managing burns.
  • Bushfire Survival plans


Triple Zero Police Emergency

Triple Zero Kids Challenge Police

Besides the information covered in the other scenarios this looks at.

  • What to do if approached by a stranger.
  • What to do if you see a crime.
  • What to do if you see an accident.
  • What if you don’t know which service you need.
  • What constitutes an emergency.


This is an excellent app for educating children and adults alike.