While you might hope that you never need to seek urgent medical help, it’s important to know when and in what situations you need to dial 999.

It’s likely there will be a time when you need to call for an ambulance whether it’s yourself or another person involved and doing so has the potential to save lives.

But when is the right time to call 999? The NHS website outlines when you should dial the number and what to do if you’re unsure whether calling 999 is the right thing to do.

When should you call 999?

The NHS says you should call 999 when a medical or mental health emergency has occurred.

This would be a situation in which a person is “seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.”

The website lists some emergencies to be aware of:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • A sudden confused state
  • Fits that are not stopping
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
  • Severe burns or scalds
  • Someone has seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose

You should call 999 immediately if you think you or someone else is suffering a stroke or heart attack because every second counts with both conditions, the NHS website explains.

Another reason to call 999 would be if you think someone has suffered a major trauma.

Examples of major traumas include a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height or a serious head injury.

What should you do if you’re not sure whether to call 999?

You can receive urgent medical help or advice by dialling the NHS 111 service.

The service is available online or by calling 111 and it is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

They will give you the help you need by asking questions about your symptoms.

NHS 111 can book an A&E time slot if you need to visit the department and this could reduce the time you wait to be seen there.

For more information about emergencies and dialling 999, you can visit the NHS website.