Better Health Channel

Save lives. Save 000 for emergencies.

In a non-emergency who should you contact?

There are a number of options available.

Meet the team saving lives (video)

To help paramedics save lives, save triple zero (000) calls for emergencies.

Your local GP can help if you have a minor injury and illness, need examination, or need advice or
referral to a specialist.

A local pharmacist can provide health advice and medicines for minor illnesses.

And there's the Nurse-On-Call hotline (1300 60 60 24) for immediate, expert advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So, save triple zero (000) calls and ambulances for emergencies.

What's an emergency?

In a medical emergency, calling for an ambulance could mean the difference between life and death. However, people sometimes hesitate to call because they are not sure if the situation qualifies as an emergency.

If in doubt, always call triple zero (000). The people who take your call are trained to help you and will direct you to appropriate assistance.

An immediate life-threatening emergency needing an ambulance may include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • severe breathing
  • unconsciousness
  • lips and face turning blue
  • becoming agitated, confused or very drowsy
  • chest pain or chest tightness
  • sudden numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
  • large burns
  • serious accidents or trauma
  • extreme pain

This is not a full list of symptoms, so if in doubt, always call triple zero (000). Tell the call taker your symptoms and let them know if you have COVID. Only call back if your condition has worsened or you no longer need an ambulance.

The ambulance service and emergency departments should only be used in emergencies.

People think they will be seen quicker at hospital if they arrive by ambulance, but this simply isn't true. The severity of your condition determines how quickly you are seen and is decided by a triage nurse.

For less-urgent symptoms, there are alternative healthcare options to calling an ambulance, including your GP, the Nurse on Call hotline or a pharmacist.

Will's story - save triple zero (000) for emergencies (video)

Hear how Will was helped by ambulance staff answering an emergency call. Triple zero (000) is for emergencies only.

Save lives. Save 000 for emergencies (video)

There's not a second to waste in the case of a real health emergency.

When an ambulance is called to a non-emergency, it puts the lives of people in a life-threatening emergency at risk.

We want Victorians to have confidence that in an emergency they will get the care they need, when they need it. That's why we all should save triple zero calls and ambulances for emergencies... because there are alternatives.

So to help save lives, save triple zero (000) for emergencies.


You can contact NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 for immediate expert advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your local pharmacist (video)

Your local pharmacist can provide treatment and advice for minor injuries and ailments, helping Victorians save triple zero (000) for emergencies.

Your local GP (video)

If you feel unwell, or have a more serious, non-emergency health concern, you can see your GP who is qualified in general medical practice.

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Reviewed on: 19-10-2021