Ambulance 911 Process

You call for the assistance of an ambulance for usually one reason -- Someone needs medical attention.

Below is a list of various medical calls we frequently receive:

  • Chest pain
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Injury accident (fire and police also sent)
  • A drunk person is sick (police also sent)
  • Person injured in a fight (fire and police also sent)
  • Victim of a fall
  • Female in labor (child birth)
  • Victim of a drowning

We take information and create what is called an "Incident". This information is entered into our computer aided dispatch system (CAD) which is viewed by another person called the "Radio Dispatcher". The radio dispatcher then reads the call and our CAD system tells them which ambulance unit to send to the call.

The radio dispatch may sound like this: (Note: commas are pauses)

Dispatcher - (sends out pager tones to alert the ambulance station)
Dispatcher: Medic 2, report of a 45 year old male, victim of a fall, semi-concious with labored breathing, at 123 Loma Street, repeating, 123 Loma Street, cross of Harold Avenue, map page T21.
Medic 3: Medic 3 copies and responding Code 3 (flashing lights and sirens).
Dispatcher: Netcom copies Medic 3 responding Code 3 at 2330 hours.

Ambulances also respond to calls with Fire Engines. An example of this may be an injury accident. We dispatch an ambulance because they have patient transport capabilities, but the fire department's response may be several minutes faster than that of an ambulance because there are more stations usually closer.

Dispatchers will provide medical direction over the telephone. If you call for an ambulance because your friend is having trouble breathing, the dispatcher will ask a series of questions, reading from "Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Protocol Cards". These cards have different categories such as "Heart Attack", "Child Birth", "CPR", etc. The dispatcher will determine the chief complaint corresponding with the correct card. In this case, the "Labored Breathing" card. They read the card verbatim so as to not miss anything while giving instructions to help. Dispatchers are required to undergo an intensive certification in the use of these medical protocols and have required continuing education requirements to keep them at their best to serve you, our customers.

Please remember to listen to the dispatcher and answer their questions as accurately as possible. When the dispatcher is entering information into the computer, there is a format they must follow. This ensures the calls sent to radio dispatchers have uniform information that is easy to read. This also allows them to give responding ambulance units on the radio the correct information in the correct order. Remember that old game called "Telephone"? We don't want to lose anything in the translation of information.


Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1
495 Upper Park Rd.
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(831) 471-1000

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