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Call 999 or 111?

CX
Grafter
Posts: 745
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Registered: 16-09-2010

Call 999 or 111?

My elderly neighbour had a fall whilst alone at home, the result was a gash to her forehead, swelling to forehead, gash to nose, and black eye. She was able to walk and appeared lucid, although appeared slightly confused with the phone trying to call her family. I got her to sit down and apply pressure to the cuts but it was clear that they needed stitches.

Being more concerned about the fact that she hit her head on either the wall or the floor (she wasn't sure which, and couldn't remember how she fell) I called 999 and after being asked the questions an ambulance was dispatched. The paramedics applied some dressings and checked blood pressure etc and took her to the hospital.

Thankfully, she is fine, but it left me wondering, in this situation is it correct to call 999, or was it a non-emergency 111 call? I want to tell myself that yes, an ambulance was required, but really, should I have taken her to A&E in the car?

14 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Registered: 06-11-2014

Re: Call 999 or 111?

Undiagnosed head injuries can result in death, so, definitely a 999 call...

Community Veteran
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Call 999 or 111?

I had a similar experience in that I had a nasty fall which resulted in a seriously gashed head and bruising around the eye

I just had my wife take me to the minor injuries unit of my local hospital where the gash was treated (tape and superglue rather than stitches) and we were sent home with a leaflet on what to watch out for over the next 24 hours

The nurse did check that my vision wasn't affected but otherwise wasn't too bothered

Community Veteran
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

Hard to think of many situations where I would dial 111.

I think they often take a message if the answer is not on the screen in front of them and a nurse phones you back, rather than phone 111 for any minor problems I would ask the local pharmacist, I stress the word minor as in every other case I would dial 999. It is quite likely you would be phoning on behalf of someone else, how would you feel if it turned out to be serious ?

Sadly plenty of people abuse the ambulance service such as drunks, people getting into fights but if you have genuine concerns about someone do not hesitate to phone 999, after all how often have you had to do that.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Call 999 or 111?

Head injury ... definitely 999... old person falling... definitely 999   .   basically.. you, ( unless you are a part time doc/nurse/st john ambulance) don`t know what has really happened..   get the experts there as soon as possible.

 

My wife had a very bad fall, 3 months ago, at the bottom of Tesco`s Travelator, where the trolley stuck in the grille at the bottom... the travelator carried on moving, taking her feet from under her,... and as she was holding on to the trolley, it came down on top of her, causing pain in the chest.. ( fortunately, there was only one light carrier bag in the trolley).. Another customer found the STOP button, and that caused the first aid staff to appear.   they called the ambulance on 999... unfortunately,.. it was an extremely busy day for them and she had to sit on the floor waiting for one to arrive for over an hour... ( a paramedic car did turn up after about 50 minutes)..

 

There was no blood, and she only "slightly" bumped her head on the side of the travelator... The ambulance staff, were, as usual, magnificent... and took her to A&E, where she had to wait a further 2 hours, in the ambulance, before she was admitted... she then spent 9 days in hospital, being treated for internal bruising of the lower body and loads of x-rays and other stuff.

she is still recovering at home..  but, glad to say.. on the mend..at long last.. 

 

Without the 999 call, and calling 111, would have caused further delays,... possibly by trying to locate a doctor to come to her aid, and THEN trying to get her admitted to A&E. 

 

Basically.. 999 is the "Emergency Service"... and 111 is the "advice" service... 111, is another form of "out of hours" GP surgery on the phone... for issues you would normally go to see your doc on the next possible appointment, .

 

So, you were right to call on the 999 service.

 

 

Superuser
Superuser
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Call 999 or 111?

My experiences with 111 are not good - and that's being polite!  The first several minutes get taken up in validating who you are; where you live etc before they show any attention to the content or priority of the call.  Shortly after that they run out of options on their crib sheet and end the call by arranging for someone to call you back.

If YOU believe the situation merits it call 999 every time.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Call 999 or 111?

I have used both services and would only use 999 in an emergency. Wife was taken ill when we were on a narrowboat holiday. Used 111, very supportive, they decided that she need to go to hospital and dispatched an ambulance. Ambulance crew were great and luckily we were able to continue our holiday. 

I think a lot of time the response on either number is down to local situations.

 

With regarding to using your own vehicle, I normally would only do that if their is a third person to look after the casualty or to drive.

nanotm
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

undiagnosed head injury = 999 especially when there is any lack of lucidity or doubt about the persons ability to look after themselves

111= for panicky parents who cant get through to the GP when little Johnny scrapped his knees in the park or got a nasty splinter ... for most other things its not worth the time it takes to call them

 

 

just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you
David_W
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

999 is for an emergency, where there is a risk to life (a head injury would count), 111 is if you think "hrm, is this an emergency or not?".  I do believe that each area has their own 111 service, so some will be better than others, they should have a script which they run through and gives them the best solution.  

There *should* be a medical nurse present at all times in case the operator doesn't know what to do, but that isn't always the case (especially with cuts to funding).

If in doubt, dial 999, it is better to be safe than sorry, but if you're really not sure which you should dial, try 111 first.

Moderator
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

My experiences with 111 are not good - and that's being polite!  The first several minutes get taken up in validating who you are; where you live etc before they show any attention to the content or priority of the call.  Shortly after that they run out of options on their crib sheet and end the call by arranging for someone to call you back.

If YOU believe the situation merits it call 999 every time.

The other week SWMBO accidentally drank some Hydrogen Sulphate she was using. She stupidly put it in a glass on the table next to a glass of water and picked up the wrong one. Luckily it was 12% which she had diluted to 4% but it was still burning her and starting to foam inside her. She rushed down the stairs in blind panic when she realised what she had done and started to drink lots of water (good) but then tried to vomit it up (bad).

 

Not knowing what best to do I rang 111. I told the operator what my wife had drank (at the time I didn't know she had diluted it and thought it was still at 12%) and that she was in a state of panic and what was happening to her and that we needed urgent advice. Many minutes of going through the questions I slammed the phone down and took her to A&E myself as too much time had been wasted. One hairy journey.

 

Had tried to tell them my wife has no history with any GP in the UK yet but they still insisted they wanted to know her cat's name and her favourite colourRoll eyes

 

Will never use 111 again... straight to A&E

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jab1
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

Luckily, I rarely need the medical services, but about 8 months ago,late night (11 o'clockish), I woke with severe chest pains. As I live alone, I realised I had better get myself checked and rang 111. After about 20 minutes of questions which had nothing to do with the pain, I politely asked the operator, who clearly had no medical training and was reading from a script, if they could connect me to a trained medic. A bit of huffing and puffing, and I was transferred, told the nurse my symptoms, and she immeadiately said 'we'll get you an ambulance', which arrived 10 minutes later. Got checked over, paramedic and ambulance staff agreed there was a problem and off to hospital at the other side of Sheffield we went.

Got to hospital, signed in, cubiculled, and then left for ages just wired to monitors. To cut a long story short, by the time I was seen by a (disinterested) doctor, the pain had almost gone and further tests showed nothing life-threatening, so I was discharged.

All in all a scary situation, but IF it ever happens again, it will be 999 - who knows what would have happened if it was a heart attack?

John
Community Veteran
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

I've only used 111 once, when I was in the midst of vacuuming, my dodgy rib decided it wanted some alone time and popped out of joint, blummin' hurt it did, ended up flat on my back not able to move, wasn't alone thankfully but 111 was called, many a question asked, "where does it hurt, is your left arm tingling, are you having chest pains (damned right I was!!), are you feeling like you're having a heart attack? etc., ended up in more of a panic because of that call than I would have been had I just gone straight to the local former A&E (turned into a walking wounded centre or whatever term it is) for an x-ray and told it was nothing more than a dislocated rib (which I ended up doing, painfully)...

 

"we can't be too careful when it comes to chest pains" they said, funny, I don't recall anyone having a heart attack hearing what sounds similar to knuckle cracking prior to them actually having a heart attack...

 

Happened again a couple of weeks ago actually, but, knowing the pain I knew what it was and how to deal with it, so flat on my back, pop pain pills rest and relax 'til it popped back in...

RaddandSand2001
Dabbler
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Registered: 23-04-2016

Re: Call 999 or 111?

I have (and I am ashamed to say) skimmed through most of the posts within this forum (I'm new here but not to PN)

IF there is ANY head or neck concerns then it is a 999 call ASAP do not or try not to move the IP as any trauma to head or neck can be dangerous

What makes me say this? Being a seaman and training as an AMA (advanced Medical Assistant) there are things you just follow by the book.

I Banged my head while doing the DIY at home, and yer I know I said I was OK then felt a little queasy so sat down (as you do) the wife rang 111 and gave the life history of the cat and the pigeon next door then she just got fed up and went to 999 and within 20 minutes I was trussed up strapped down and carted off to the local Hospital where several days in a brace and lots of pictures as well as a nice colour image jobby I was allowed to sit up with a collar.

Just the 'Little knock' had damaged the joint to my skull which if untreated could have been very err dangerous for me.

All I hear now is the family pointing fingers at me saying "You should know better than be stupid and move"

still I am exempt from DIY now :-)

Community Veteran
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Re: Call 999 or 111?

111 is essentially a cost cutting service to replace the previous non-emergency service which was manned by medical practitioners.  The NHS administrators love to think they can effectively provide medical advice by recruiting low cost administrative call handlers and giving them protocols (check lists) to remotely diagnose medical conditions. 

In any possible head injury situation get the person to an A&E where they have the tools to monitor/treat such conditions. If the person has lost consciousness, has balance problems, blurred vision,  vomiting or aggressive behaviour after the incident use the 999 service 

Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
Community Veteran
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Re: Call 999 or 111?


AlaricAdair wrote:

The NHS administrators love to think they can effectively provide medical advice by recruiting low cost administrative call handlers and giving them protocols (check lists) to remotely diagnose medical conditions.


There has been enough publicised wrong diagnoses by real doctors done on the phone using check lists.

 

When my dear old Mum tripped in a car park and banged her head I called an ambulance. Even though she seemed OK I kept her laid on the ground until they arrived. She enjoyed the attention of the ambulance men and after a thorough check was pronounced fit and fine. Just needing the blood washing out of her hair.

 

As medical people often say, only they are qualified to make on the spot diagnosis's.