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SOS? Send an SMS to the Welsh Ambulance Service

Welsh Ambulance Service

PEOPLE with a hearing or speech impairment in Wales are reminded that they can contact the Welsh Ambulance Service via text message in the event of an emergency.

The Trust has joined the national emergencySMS service, which lets deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people send a text message to the UK 999 service which will be passed to the police, ambulance, fire service or coastguard.

Once registered with emergencySMS, all patients need to do is send a text message to 999 stating which emergency service they need, briefly what the problem is and exactly where there they are. Help will then be arranged.

People are encouraged only to use this service if they are seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

Chief Executive Elwyn Price-Morris said: “We are keen to ensure that our service is accessible to all people in Wales and believe this SMS service will help those with sensory impairments.

“We invite as many people as possible to register for this scheme, so they can get help and fast in an emergency situation.”

The Trust’s Partners in Healthcare team has also developed a Medical Information Card designed to aid communication between ambulance crews and a patient who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Patients are encouraged to fill in as many details as they can on the card, including personal information, a list of medications and allergies and details of their next of kin or carer.

They must keep the card with them at all times, and hand it to the ambulance crews when they arrive at the scene of an accident or emergency.

To get a Medical Information Card, send an email ppi.team@wales.nhs.uk with your name, address and postcode.

The team will then send you a card in the post.

Alison Johnstone, Partners in Healthcare Manager, said: “We recognise communication difficulties are a patient safety issue. Good communication between our frontline staff and patients and their families will result in better care and treatment.

“Developing the Medical Information Card will help to assess the needs of patients and provide safe, effective treatment as well as identify the specific communication needs of our patients and share this with NHS colleagues.”

The Medical Information Card supports the launch of the Pre-Hospital Communication Guide, which helps staff communicate with patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted, people with learning disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language.

The pocket-sized bilingual guide is carried on all Welsh Ambulance Service vehicles and uses pictures and words to explain to patients what crews need to do for them.

It also gives the service user the opportunity to give crews important information about themselves and their circumstances.

The guide was launched by Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services, in December.

Search for ‘Deaf and Hard of Hearing’ on the Welsh Ambulance Service website for more information.

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