Utilised to respond to a variety of medical emergencies and to offer disaster relief, ambulances are used to transport paramedics, responders and doctors to the scene where they are needed, as well as carry all necessary equipment imperative for administering emergency care. In addition, they transport patients to the hospital and other medical facilities.
Both public and private hospitals offer an ambulance service, however, many of the private suppliers work hand in hand with the local Department of Health, supplying them with additional ambulances when needed.
What equipment can you find inside an ambulance?
Bearing in mind that it serves to transport injured or ill individuals from a location to a hospital, an ambulance must be armed with all the necessary equipment to provide urgent medical care to the patient. As a result, a pulse oximeter that measures the amount of oxygen present in the blood, oxygen supply equipment, automated external defibrillator (AED), nebuliser, cardiac pacemaker, wheelchairs and stretcher boards are all some of the typical gear you may find in an ambulance. As a result, it is appropriate for both patients suffering from minor illnesses and injuries, as well as those needing life support.
However, apart from the aforementioned equipment directly related to medical treatment and care, ambulances also have additional apparatus such as a two-way radio, which is imperative when it comes to assigning jobs, tail lift or ramp that helps load a patient into the vehicle, trauma lighting, data recorders that record important information such as speed and other important gear. Also, considering that they are used to respond to emergencies that could arise following a traffic accident, ambulances also have warning lights and sirens.
How many different types of ambulances are there available?
Generally speaking, locally you may typically find one type - the emergency ambulance - which comes in the form of road-going vans and helicopters, however, abroad ambulances are classified into various types depending on whether they transport individuals and whether they fulfil more than one function. For instance, apart from the patient transport variety, which as its name implies, it transports patients, a response vehicle is used to reach an acutely ill or injured person and provide on-scene care, yet it does not transport anyone unless the individual can sit on a normal car seat. This service is similar to that offered in Malta & Gozo by the emergency doctor who drives a regular car. Having said that, the Malta Red Cross operates the only bariatric ambulance found on the island, which can transport the severely obese weighing up to 350kg. This means that the vehicle is manufactured to have extra-wide interiors and is fitted with specialised lifting gear that can carry large patients.
What other services are provided by ambulance suppliers?
Patient transport is also offered to non-emergency individuals who might need to be transported back and forth to the hospital for appointments or for those who need to be transferred to a location but cannot travel inside a normal car. Yet, suppliers can also provide medical cover such as first aid during various events and venues if the case arises. Always at the ready, many boast state-of-the-art communication apparatus whereby live footage of events is transmitted to the Health Department, Civil Protection Department (CPD), Army and Police Force. Whether it is a corporate event, an outdoor concert or a sports event like a national marathon, suppliers can offer their ambulance and medical services whenever needed. This means that they can also install a triage tent and a field clinic that can hold approximately 20 beds.
Individuals who work within the ambulance service industry are generally fully trained to carry out medical evacuations. This also means that a number of providers offer training such as basic and paediatric first aid, medical first responder, radio communication, the first person on the scene and many more courses. Lastly, the ambulances can also be used for fictitious roles during the filming of movies or TV series.
What to do in case of an emergency
If the inevitable has occurred and you're facing some sort of an emergency situation where you or someone you know is in immediate need of medical attention, you should contact an ambulance right away. In unison with the other 28 EU members states, Malta has also adopted the telephone number 112 as the country's emergency number, available free of charge, 24/7.