What to do while you wait for an ambulance

Stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone else shows the signs of stroke, call 000 immediately.

While you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive:

  • If the person is conscious, lay them down on their side with their head slightly raised and supported.
  • Do not give them anything to eat or drink.
  • Loosen any restrictive clothing that could cause breathing difficulties.
  • If weakness is obvious in any limb, support it and avoid pulling on it when moving the person.
  • If they are unconscious, check their breathing and pulse and put them on their side. If they do not have a pulse or are not breathing, start CPR straight away.
  • If you are unsure how to perform CPR, the ambulance call taker will give instructions over the phone.


A number of questions are asked while you wait for the paramedics to arrive. 

Here is an emergency dialogue used in New South Wales, provided by the Ambulance Service of NSW. 

  • Are they completely awake? 
  • Are they breathing normally? 
  • Are they able to talk normally? 
  • Tell me why you think it’s a stroke
  • When was the last time they were acting normally?
  • Have they ever had a stroke before?


Post-dispatch instructions: “I’m organising the paramedics to help you. Stay on the line and I’ll tell you exactly what to do next.