What you should do if you're with someone waiting for an ambulance to arrive and how long to wait?

Credit: PA/Wires

As hospitals across the south east continue to deal with unprecedented pressure, people are warned if they dial 999, they could be waiting for an ambulance for a significant amount of time.

At the moment the NHS is under increasing strain and the UK’s ambulance services are under more pressure than ever, with a number of critical incidents being declared at our health trusts.

But in the current climate, this isn't always happening and you may be waiting considerably longer.

One nurse has told ITV Meridian if you are first on the scene and find someone who has collapsed or had an accident, what you do in those first minutes is critical, and that the first aid you give whilst waiting for the ambulance often means the difference between life and death.

So what should you do if you're with someone waiting for that ambulance to arrive? And at what point, do you give up and drive them to A&E?

  • First Aid trainer Emma Hammett speaks to ITV Meridian's Matt Teale

First Aid trainer Emma Hammett says the first thing to do is to take a deep breath to clear your head.

See if you can identify what the most serious problem is. The most obvious problem isn’t always the most serious.

If the casualty is conscious

Keep yourself and the casualty calm. Check they are not experiencing breathing problems, and control bleeding with direct pressure. Try and keep the casualty warm and dry.

Possible Heart Attack

Encourage them to sit down in an upright position. If they've been prescribed a 300mg Aspirin they should chew this, and you must phone the emergency services.

If they lose consciousness and stop breathing - start CPR and use an AED if possible.

Difficulty breathing

If the casualty is struggling to breathe, the easiest position for them, is sitting in an upright position. You should try and establish why they are having difficulty and if they have any medication to help, and if they are asthmatic.

They could be having an acute allergic reaction or experiencing angina. If so, help them toadminister any medication straight away. And if their condition gets worse, let the ambulance control centre know.

Possible stroke

If someone's showing signs of a stroke, get them to a stroke unit as soon as you can.

If the ambulance is delayed and you feel safe transporting them, take them there yourself.

It is of critical importance that they are assessed as soon as possible, because if they have a blood clot and are treated quickly enough it may be possible to reverse damage.

Possible spinal injury

If they are conscious and you are concerned that they may have damaged their spine, try and encourage them to stay still and avoid twisting their back or neck.

If they are unconscious and breathing, you should very carefully roll them into the recovery position, protecting their neck and back to avoid twisting.

If they stop breathing, you should start CPR.

If the casualty is unconscious

If a person is unconscious and breathing, place them in the recovery position to protect their airway. If they are not breathing normally, phone an ambulance, put on speakerphone if you are on your own, and start CPR and use an AD without delay.

For a child do five breaths and 30 compressions and two further breaths before phoning an ambulance.