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Media Releases | St John Ambulance
Think before you dial Triple Zero (000) this festive season
  14 Dec 2023

With calls to emergency services set to increase in the lead up to and over the festive season, St John NT is urging people to ensure they only call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

St John NT Emergency Medical Dispatchers responded to more than 80,000 Triple Zero calls last financial year, with ambulance services attending to and treating more than 55,000 patients and transporting just under 44,000 patients to hospital.

December is the busiest month for St John NT Emergency Medical Dispatchers, who last year recorded a 20% increase in their monthly call volume to just under 7900 calls answered for the month.

St John NT Director Ambulance Services Andrew Thomas said that also on the rise were calls from people with general health concerns which did not warrant an emergency ambulance response.

“The festive season is a very busy time for our team at the Emergency Communications Center and our on-road paramedic crews,” Mr Thomas said. “These non-urgent calls are taking up valuable time that could mean the difference between a life and death situation.

“We want to make sure that those seeking our assistance in an emergency can get through to our call center and we can render assistance.”

He said that calls regarding “a patient who does not have an identifiable life-threatening or urgent medical condition” continue to be the highest category of calls overall.

“This could be anything from an earache to a sore throat, hiccups, constipation or insomnia.

“Our very low acuity cases are also increasing, with a 58% increase since 2020.”

St John NT is hoping to build awareness regarding the correct use of Triple Zero (000) to ensure the safety and healthcare outcomes of the community with the role out of advertising over the next month. While a decision to call Triple Zero (000) could help save lives, some calls are more suited to other health services.

“Our crews are here to help but not every call made to our call centre is for an emergency and could better be managed through another health service,” Mr Thomas said.  “While every person who needs an ambulance will get one, sometimes calls that are not an emergency can put pressure on our emergency services.”

He also reminded those seeking assistance through calling Triple Zero (000) to stay calm and follow the instructions of emergency dispatchers.

“We understand that often people are dealing with an incredibly difficult situation when they call for assistance,” he said. “Please remember to remain calm and provide our dispatchers with the information required for them to provide lifesaving instructions and assistance.”

If you or someone you know is sick but it's not an emergency, you can get help from:

  • your doctor or local clinic
  • a pharmacist
  • a dentist
  • a local urgent care clinic (information below)

If you are not sure if a person has a serious or urgent health condition, you can call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice.

Urgent Care Clinics operate from Palmerston GP Super Clinic and CAAC, Northside Clinic, Alice Springs. More information on opening hours here

“Please remember that the health of our community is our highest priority and that Triple Zero (000) services remain ready to provide support,” Mr Thomas said.

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