Messages must be accurate, brief, and concise. Use of acronyms to standardise this is useful and allows both pre- and in-hospital teams to transfer information in a structured way. If you are the person sending the message, it is useful to have all the information written down before making the call to ensure the correct information is transmitted efficiently.

For trauma pre-alerts, NICE guidelines recommend following the ATMISTER format10:

A          Age and sex of the injured person

T           Time of incident

M         Mechanism of injury

I           Injuries suspected

S          Signs, including vital signs and GCS

T           Treatment so far

E          Estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the emergency department

R          Requirements on arrival

The ambulance call sign and time of call should also be transmitted.

The ATMIST portion of the pre-alert then largely forms the handover once the pre-hospital team arrive at the ED.

For medical patients, the same format can be used, replacing mechanism and injuries with the medical issue.