Asthma UK community forum
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Calling an ambulance

Has any one ever called an ambulance but by the time they arrived, the ventolin has worked and you are almost recovered? What was the attitude of the paras?

I had an attack in the middle of the night 2 nights ago where i woke up coughing and really had to work hard to stop coughing and to to be able to draw a wheezy breathe.If someone had been with me i would have wanted them to call an ambulance. I live on my own and didn't call an ambulance because i couldn't talk, and i wouldn't have been able to get downstairs and let them in anyway. besides i wasn't really thinking straight - only thinking breathe, breathe BREATHE!!!! Thankfully for some reason I had put my inhaler and spacer next to my bed that night because there was no way i could have gone and got it if I hadn't. I recovered eventually and managed to get back to sleep but when i woke up my peak flow was 150-200, normal is 450+. I went to the doctors that morning and got preds which are helping. I've never had an attack like that and it is the scariest thing I have ever experienced and made me realise how easy it is to die from asthma.

When I get a cold or something triggers my asthma I sometimes wake up with a low peak flow (200-250ish) and it takes a while to get back to normal, or even to a point where I can get out of bed.

At what stage do you call an ambulance? I'm worried that if I've recovered by the time they get here they'll be cross about me wasting their time. Has this ever happened to anyone?

I'm also worried because I cough rather than wheeze that they won't take me seriously.

Basically I'm scared of calling an ambulance but i don't want to play russian roulette with my life.

Thank you for reading

11 Replies

Hi I am new to this forum but I can tell you of an experience I had a few weeks ago I hope it will help.

I had been feeling poorly for a time and had a cough which was getting worse I am a dope coz asthma never entered my head as I think I must have got used to being a bit tight for quite a long time but to me it did not feel like an asthma attack. Bout 5 in the morning I had just had enough so I rang out of hours I was finding it hard totalk but I had laryngitis so I thought it was just that well a doc came out and told me to get in touch with my gp in morning I duly did she came straight out and said I. Was borderline hospital later that day she called an ambulance when the paramedics arrived they were great my sats were at 89 and I was tired now I did not realise I was that I'll I was rushed in and was in for 10 days very aggressive treatment following up with hospital asthma clinic physio and some other stuff. I know I have waffled on but you very clearly had a very bad attack ( I tend to cough a lot now rather than wheeze ) the paramedics were amazing I thought I was having them on ( I really am a class a dope) so expected them to be off with me but they can see a genuine case and are trained to deal do not be afraid to call them that is what they are there for if the inhaler has worked just tell them and explain how bad it was and how worried/frightened you were they will understand.

Hope this rambling will help.

Thinking of you



I've never called an ambulance, although I think maybe the last time I should have. Both my OH and I weren't sure what to do, so we rang NHS direct, who said I needed to go to hospital. By that time, things had settled to the point I could at least speak in short bursts, so we got a taxi. We were told when I got to a&e we should have rang 999. I just don't like to make a fuss.

I still feel unsure though, if it happened again, still don't think we'd feel confident enough to know whether it'd be appropriate to ring an ambulance.


Hey I just wanted to say that, if you feel that you cant get it under control and things arn't picking up, just called for an ambulance no matter what. All of the ones I have had have been amazing, and 90% of the time, I don't wheeze. Better to be safe than sorry, and I'm sure they would much rather be picking someone up with an illness that needs their help, that a drunk who doesn't care.

Don't every worry about what they may think, and also don't worry about the fact of not being able to get to the door, I have been in that situation, and in the end, they called in reinforcements and the police soon got them in. They will get in no matter what.

And if your feeling a little better when they do arrive, you can still get taken to hospital to be checked over if you like, and at least your in the safest place if you have a re-attack later on.

Hope you are feeling well now!!

P.S welcome Terri J



Thank you for the replies, I'm feeling very reassured that i'm not a timewaster. I saw the asthma nurse this week and had my inhalers changed to symbicort SMART and I feel like I've been given a new set of lungs! Its working really well for me so far. She was really helpful and said if this happens, do this, if that happens do that with regards to getting preds or going to hospital to i feel more in control of things now.


SO glad you are feeling a little better button, both lung wise and what to do wise!! Always helps when you have that reassurance!!



I have done both in the last 3 weeks. I called when, by not waiting until I hit what was on my Asthma Action Plan, I still had control. It took the ambulance 25 minutes to get here, buy which time I had been lucky enough to be getting myself out of trouble. The paramedics were great and stayed with me for some 3 hours, including waiting while one went off to try to get a course of antibiotics started for me. (I had a chest infection that triggered my asthma.) That time, I was in control for the first time ever and I was not at all scared.

It is OK to admit being scared with asthma attacks.

A week or so later (and for days), I did not call when I should have done. PF was falling and O2 was way, way down, breathing was very difficult. I was very tired and did not have control and I do not mind admitting that I was scared. My judgement was totally screwed up and I did, in your exact words, ""play russian roulette with my life"".

I now know I had pneumonia. I now know that I should have called 999. I ended up captured anyway, having risked my life and made my consultant angry with me for my stupidity. I had nothing to lose by calling for an ambulance, but everything to gain.

Please, please, do not ever let doubt step in the way.



Hi I am new here but just had to reply.

I work for the Ambulance Service and we would never say you have wasted our time, even if you had started to recover. As a severe asthmatic myself I understand that asthma can deteriorate rapidly and without warning.

I am probably one of the worst people for not ringing for an Ambulance when I need one but there is a saying about medical staff being the worst patients!!!

Please don't ever feel that you will be told off by Paramedics. Its our job to come out and help.

Hope this helps and you are feeling better



better safe than sorry most men / woman in green are careing people that are cool with it they give u a full check over it better to call them it better than leaving to late !! they like it better if u alive !!


I am the same. I hate calling amubulances because I feel I am wasting there time. But I have been told that if I feel unwell in the night in my area. I need to ring 999 because the main a and e reception is now a gp surgery and you do not get assessed you just book in and sit and wait to see a gp.

It is hard to know what to do when. On weekdays I can ring my consultant or community matron but out of hours 999 is my only options due to changes in my area but I always feel I am wasting there time :(


I know exactly what you mean. I went to a&e with husband and kids on Sat night by car and got neb and more prednisolone, but Sun night I was up all night bad, thinking - they've got school, if I can hang on till surgery opens I'll get the neb. I changed my mind and got everyone up at 6.45 and said I need to go in now, but my family took 45 mins to get ready, I was getting worse! I took so much ventolin that by time I got in the car I started to improve a bit. Still felt like I needed neb though but the triage nurse said, don't think you're having an asthma attack, I think its a cold. Go and sit and wait to be called. We sat for about 40 mins, and although I was feeling better I got upset and made my husband phone the surgery which had opened by now; we left after being told there were two people in the queue in front of me anyway! I now hate that triage nurse. The doctor told me off for not ringing an ambulance in the middle of the night. I think I just will next time!


Hey :-) i know this is an oldish post but just thought these lovely paramedics i had the other night deserved a mention. I often get strange responses from paramedics as i am frequently very calm looking, these two were really good and didn't even question the fact that i was watching TV. I just handed them my 'bit of paper' which contains answers to all the questions i ge asked when i cant breathe and they just read it and let me cope how i like to. they were really calm with me and just chatted while i wheezed away. as i live in halls they were realy understanding that as a student i put my dignity before the capacity to breathe for longer than i should and they let me get dressed and walk out to the ambulance and we're really helpful. they were apologetic that they were taking me in when i didnt want to go, but made me feel more in control. they were really slow giving me hydrocortisone as when its given quickly it makes my skin burn. and before we set off they just said that as i knew my own condition and was the one living with it everyday, was there anything else i wanted, any pain relief (i gt very sore ribs, and back when im struggling) or fluids if i was getting dehydrated and i felt so much better. the guy even took time to reassure me that i did the right thing ringing 999, ive had so many ambulances recently that i feel like a timewaster, nut in my head i know that if i need it i need it, and ive ended up in resus when i leave it too long so its worth early intervention. But yeah, thought id share a nice story to reassure peole that there are some really nice paramedics out there! sophs


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