When should you call an ambulance instead of driving to the emergency department? You may live near a hospital and believe it's faster to drive yourself or an injured person to the emergency department. But first, you need to answer the following questions:
- Is the victim's condition life threatening? If you're not sure, call an ambulance, Its paramedics are trained to assess and treat life-threatening conditions.
- Could the victim's condition worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the nearest hospital?
- Could moving the victim cause more injury?
- Does the victim need the skills or equipment of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
- Would distance or traffic conditions cause a delay in getting the victim to the hospital?
Call 911 right away if you or a victim has:
- Any change in level of consciousness. Someone isn't responding as normal, he/she may appear very sleepy, doesn't speak back to you, isn't able to follow commands, or is unconscious and you can't wake them.
- Being extremely short of breath.
- Having chest pressure or chest pain.
- Slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body. He/she can raise one arm but are unable to raise the other.
- Uncontrollable bleeding.
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you are unsure, it's best to call an ambulance. This is true even though you can sometimes get to the hospital faster by driving than by calling an ambulance.
Paramedics can communicate with the hospital in transit
Paramedics and emergency technicians communicate with a physician in the emergency department by radio. Paramedics are trained to begin medical treatment on the way to the nearest hospital. This prevents any delay if you are driving the patient to the closest emergency department. The paramedics can also alert the emergency department of the patient's condition in advance, which saves time when the ambulance arrives at the hospital.
When an ambulance arrives, the patient will be unloaded quickly on the gurney and transferred directly into the emergency department, whereas it may take too much time to unload the victim from your vehicle. Rushing to the hospital at high speed in a private car can not only endanger you but put others at risk, and could even result in a citation by police. It's much safer to transport a patient in an ambulance.
Ridgeview's Ambulance service, working with dispatch, paramedics and physicians can assess the best location to transport the victim to, which might be a Ridgeview hospital, or a trauma center in the metro area. Paramedics can also alert a hospital to prepare an Emergency Department room with special life-saving procedures or teams specific to the needs of the patient.
About Ridgeview Ambulance
Ridgeview Ambulance has been serving the community for 40 years. In that time, the department has grown to meet the needs of Ridgeview's increasing service area. In 1977, Ridgeview started with three ambulances, one paramedic and three EMTs and averaged 30 calls a month. The department now has 17 ambulances and two chase vehicles and averages 40 calls a day with 74 paramedics, 59 EMTs and 13 dispatchers who provide medical dispatch services for all of Carver County, and portions of McLeod, Wright, Hennepin, Scott and Sibley counties. The original service area was Waconia and the surrounding area. Today, Ridgeview Ambulance now covers 900 square miles.