Relay Emergency Medical Services 24/7 Emergency Number: 0861 061 061

Know when it's right to call an ambulance

BY Relay EMS

You have a medical situation at home, but you're not sure that it warrants calling an ambulance ...

Don't hesitate!

Rather dial that emergency number.

Remember, the paramedics can assess the situation and make a decision as to the most appropriate action.

“If you’re in doubt, phone 0861 061 061 and we’ll be there,” says RELAY EMS Base Manager, Rohan Steyn. “This action can mean the difference between life and death, so it’s better to be pro-actively safe.”

Rohan provides some more tips on how to recognise a medical emergency:

Dial 0861 061 061 immediately for the following:

  • An unconscious person doesn't wake up or respond when shaken.
  • A heart attack is suspected (pain in the chest, a feeling of crushing or indigestion that last more than five minutes, or the pain spreads to the arms and jaw).
  • Breathing difficulty - especially if the person is unable to speak more than a few words or has blue lips or mouth.
  • Abdominal pain - if it's severe and undiagnosed.
  • Bleeding - any major, uncontrolled bleeding or any bleeding that doesn't stop after at least 10 minutes of continuous pressure.
  • Severe back pain after a fall or after a sudden onset of back pain if the person is over 50.
  • Burns which are bigger than the size of a hand or the cause of severe pain that is not relieved with simple pain-relieving medication, or if the person has difficulty breathing.
  • Choking – especially if the person is unable to talk, cry or breathe.
  • Convulsions or fitting, or if the person has no history of convulsions (i.e. epilepsy or brain injury).
  • Drowning, near drowning, diving or scuba accident.
  • Possible stroke, especially if the person experiences numbness, loss of function of a limb, slurred speech, facial droop or severe abrupt headache.
  • Severe headache – not the usual kind, with or without loss of function of limb.
  • A motor vehicle accident, if you think someone has been injured.
  • An industrial accident where a person is injured or trapped.
  • Severe vaginal bleeding ,with possible or confirmed pregnancy.
  • A suicide attempt.
  • Severe pain after a fall or injury – the person is unable to sit up, stand or walk.
  • A drug overdose or poisoning, even if you only suspect it.
  • Diabetes – if the person is not fully awake or not behaving normally.
  • An allergic reaction, especially with difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness.
  • Any kind of electrical shock.
  • Severe injury through a traumatic incident (shooting, stabbing, hit by an object, etc.),  especially to the head, neck, chest or abdomen.
  • Hypothermia or heat stress, particularly if the person has collapsed or has an altered conscious state.

“It’s also a good idea to take a first-aid course, so that you can recognise a medical emergency and be able to administer effective first-aid until the paramedics arrive,” Rohan adds.

For more information, visit

 April 26, 2017
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