WA Health system

Ambulance ramping explained

Ambulance parked at emergency department

You may have heard the term ramping used in relation to waiting times at hospital Emergency Departments (ED).

Ramping refers to the time ambulances are located at a hospital’s ED while ambulance officers or paramedics care for their patient until the patient can be handed over to the care of ED staff.

Patients are not left in the rear of ambulances – all patients arriving by ambulance are taken into the hospital’s ED on arrival.

Patients arriving at a hospital ED, either by ambulance or by other means, are triaged or assessed by hospital staff according to the severity of their condition.

Anyone whose condition is urgent or life-threatening, such as someone in need of resuscitation, will always be prioritised over other patients and treated immediately when necessary. 

Non-urgent patients may have to wait for treatment while ED staff attend to more serious cases.

When a patient arrives by ambulance, and is triaged as a non-urgent case, the ambulance officers or paramedics will stay with the patient until they can be transferred into the care of hospital staff.

The new ramping reduction measures, which came into effect on 1 July 2015 at metropolitan tertiary hospitals, Fiona Stanley, Royal Perth and Sir Charles Gairdner, aim to have these patients transferred into the care of ED staff within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital in order to release the ambulance staff and their vehicles to attend to other calls.

It is always the aim of ED staff to ensure patients are attended to in a timely manner and that waiting times are kept to a minimum.

You will always be attended to according to the severity of your condition and how busy the ED is at the time.

You can see in real-time the current waiting times in our metropolitan hospitals.


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

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