WHEN SHOULD WE CALL AN AMBULANCE OR GO TO EMERGENCY?
There is absolutely no doubt that our hospitals and ambulance services are under incredible pressure to meet expectations. There is also no doubt that part of the problem has been caused by our ever-growing population not being matched by extra services. But another part of the pressure is really on all of us.
Making a decision to call an ambulance can vary from case to case. Obviously with life threatening symptoms there isn’t a choice to be made, you simply must call 000. There are also instances where an injured or unwell persons needs to stay still and in place until the highly trained and skilled team can arrive in an ambulance.
But then there are other instances where an ambulance really should not have been called. A stubbed toe, a broken fingernail, a headache or a minor burn are not really a reason to call an ambulance – and yet some people do.
At any given moment in time, most ambulances across the Hunter are busy on a job or a call-out. In many cases this leads to an ambulance presenting at a hospital Emergency Department(ED). Then, depending on available beds, the ambulance offloads quickly and is back out on the road, or, the ambulance is required to stay with the patient, at the hospital, until bedspace becomes available.
The patient in the ambulance, as well as the patients in the waiting room at the ED, are all being triaged based on how serious their health condition is. No doubt a stubbed toe or broken fingernail is going to waiting much longer than a broken arm or a suspected heart attack. But all of these people, at the various ends of the scale of “serious” health concern, are in the line and waiting.
Meanwhile, who or what is in the waiting area for the ED? Again, there is mix of levels of unwell in the waiting area and some are more urgent than others. The reason for a person attending ED can be complex and while some reasons are around serious and urgent conditions, in many other instances the reason will include factors such as the availability of a local GP to see them and treat their condition at a regular GP clinic. And then there is the cost of going to the GP.
The current Federal Government have made a commitment to establish an Urgent Care Clinic in Cessnock. I sincerely hope that this will take a tremendous amount of pressure OFF our Ambulances and ED’s, but the other thing that would help enormously would be each of us taking a pause to think to ourselves “do I really need an ambulance or a trip to Emergency for my health concern?”.
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