Larrey Society members’ cautious support for 999 texting

Monday, 13 July, 2015


Members of The Larrey Society, the cross sector ambulance “think tank” today (13 July 2015) announced support for the proposal to adapt the 999 emergency number for smartphone technology but warned that safeguards are needed to be built in before any changes are made.

In a poll, the members from the NHS ambulance trusts, independent companies and voluntary organisations, overwhelmingly endorsed the proposal from The Institute of Engineering and Technology to upgrade the present system which required callers to preregister, but expressed serious concerns that using texting to call 999 would make triaging difficult and also encourage an increase in hoax calls which are already putting substantial additional pressure on ambulance resources.

A Larrey Society statement said:  “The members’ poll recognised that the use of technology to improve all patient transport services was inevitable and extending the use of smartphones to include 999 texting would be an important step forward, provided there was also the possibility of two-way talking which would always be the best option.

“Members also pointed out that beyond 999 texting, video technology which enabled doctors and paramedics to see in real time what was happening at the scene, offered even greater benefits for patients”

The Society is planning to assign a small task force of members to contribute to the government debate on how emergency calls should be handled in the digital age. The membership task force will comprise qualified paramedics with operational/front line ambulance experience, paramedical educators and experts from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, the recognised standard-setting organization for all aspects of emergency medical dispatch, fire and police dispatching. Recently the Academy certified membership surpassed the 54,000 mark.

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