Majority Identify Need for an Ambulance in an Emergency

Only two of seven scenarios which do not require an ambulance were correctly identified by most

FRIDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of people are able to identify emergency situations that require an ambulance to be called, but there is a high level of inappropriate response in nonemergency situations, according to a study published online Feb. 22 in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Helen M. Kirkby, Ph.D., and Lesley M. Roberts, Ph.D., from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, evaluated questionnaires from 150 respondents presenting 12 common scenarios requiring medical attention to determine whether the respondents knew when to properly request an ambulance. Analyses determined the characteristics of those who would call ambulances inappropriately.

The researchers found that depending on the scenario, 5.2 to 47.8 percent of the respondents gave an inappropriate response. Although nearly all of the participants correctly identified the need for an ambulance in three of five scenarios, only 74.8 percent of participants identified the necessity of calling an ambulance for a suspected stroke. The majority of respondents only correctly identified two of seven scenarios in which an ambulance was not required. Calling an ambulance inappropriately was less likely in respondents with first-aid training; however, once the confounding factors were considered, no characteristics were identified to predict inappropriate calling of an ambulance.

"Most people would call for an ambulance appropriately when a real emergency occurred, but there are high levels of inappropriate calls when emergencies are not present. There may be value in nationwide first aid and education courses in order to reduce the numbers of inappropriate calls to the ambulance service," the authors write.

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