In an emergency
Help in an emergency
When you call 111, the first thing we do is ask you questions to work out where you are and what help you need.
When you call us
The first thing we do is work out where you are and what is happening.
We will ask you:
- Your street number, street name and suburb
- The phone number you are calling from
- What is happening for you
- If you are helping someone else we will ask you if they are conscious and breathing.
We repeat some questions because we need to be sure we know where you are. We must be certain that we understand the nature of your emergency and what you need from us.
Working out priorities
The 111 call taker works out a person’s condition using a medical priority dispatch system. This system is used internationally and is the clinically proven way of getting the right help, to the right people, in the best possible time.
The more life-threatening the condition, the greater priority we give your call. That means sending the closest help to you, right now, under lights and sirens.
If it’s a bad sprain, break or something painful but not life threatening, an ambulance might be the best help, but it could take longer to arrive if we have a number of life-threatening things on the go at the time.
If we are delayed we will call you back to find out if anything has changed, so please keep a watch on the situation, and your phone with you. If it’s something minor, we have registered nurses and Clinical Paramedic Advisors who will call you back and give you advice over the phone.
How we help
We are more than just an ambulance. Depending on how unwell you are, your medical history, and how much support you have from people around you we can help you a number of ways.
Help over the phone
If you have a health worry that we know from talking with you is not life threatening in any way, we will have one of our registered nurses call you back to talk through your symptoms and the best thing to do. They might help you make an appointment with your GP, ask you about your medication, or suggest good options for pain relief. If they are worried that things could get more serious, they will get extra advice from our on-site paramedic. If they think you need a visit from a paramedic or an ambulance, they will send one to you.
Last year our Clinical Paramedic Advisors supported almost 15,000 incidents safely over the phone.
Care in the community
If your condition is serious and urgent, but not life threatening we send a paramedic as soon as we can. They might be one of our community-based paramedics who arrive in a car, or it might be a team in an ambulance.
Our paramedics are trained to assess your condition and make professional clinical decisions about the best course of action. They may be able to treat you safely at home, especially if you have people around to help and good care in the community. They might transport you to a medical centre or hospital.
Last year we helped around 17,500 people stay safe and well at home.
Lights and sirens emergency
If your situation is life-threatening, we are sending our closest and fastest resource to you under lights and siren. We work with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Life Flight Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and other community first responders to get to you as quickly as possible. Our paramedic teams will treat you, care for you, and get you to the best place for specialist treatment.
Last year we transported around 36,000 patients to hospital.
Specialist Emergency Services
We work closely with other health and emergency services and when it comes to the most life threatening situations, we involve our most qualified and experienced people.
Urgent Community Care – If you live in Kapiti or Porirua, we have a special service aimed at helping you at home. Urgent Community Care paramedics work with you and your GP to help you when your health need is unexpected and urgent, but can be safely treated without a trip to the hospital.
Flight paramedics – Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics are your life-saving crew on the Westpac Life Flight helicopter. We call on the help of our specially trained flight paramedics when every second counts or we need to get emergency care to someone in a remote part of our region.
Rescue squad – We have specially trained paramedics who work as part of our region’s search and rescue teams. They are equipped with four wheel drives, are highly qualified clinicians and sometimes trek for hours through bush day or night to reach people who are seriously injured.
First responders – Some of our paramedics are volunteer first responders for their community. We work with the Fire and Emergency Service, medical centres and trained people in the community so that in a life-threatening emergency we can get someone to the scene as quick as possible. First responders are trained in CPR and are key to getting life-saving treatment underway until the ambulance can arrive.
Public Safety Network
A new communications service that will allow emergency service frontline responders across New Zealand to better communicate with each other.
The Public Safety Network is a Government funded initiative that will enable Wellington Free Ambulance to move from traditional radio networks that provide voice-only communications to a modern capability that supports voice, video, imaging, maps and real-time intelligence information.
Having this communication capability will support healthier, safer, and more connected communities.
Whilst the Public Safety Network is not ready yet, there will be much work undertaken over the new few years to ensure we get the best service for our staff and patients.
Wellington Free Ambulance is a partner agency alongside Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police and St John.
Visit the Public Safety Network website for more information.