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A number of people have asked what the different letters on the side of ambulances mean. Whereas there are some groups of letters which form the company´s name, there are those which indicate the role and purpose of the ambulance.


These codes may differ slightly in some areas and not all ambulances display them, but it is perhaps useful to know the difference between those ambulances we can identify.

The SAMU, or Servicio de Atención Médica de Urgencia, is an emergency ambulance, consisting of a full team of emergency personal, including a physician, nurse and support team member.

The second type of vehicle is the SVB, or Soporte Vital Básico, which is similar to the SAMU, although not usually carrying a doctor.

The third type of vehicle, perhaps most commonly seen, is the TNA, or Transporte No Asistido, which offers emergency response and ability to transport patients, but does not normally carry staff capable of rendering any medical assistance beyond basic first aid.

The difference between the three main types, SAMU, SVB and TNA, lies in the team of professionals who are on board. The SAMU are the only emergency vehicles that have a full team, consisting of physicians, nurses and orderly, therefore capable of dealing with more serious situations, and could be considered the equivalent of a paramedic unit in the U.K.

In total there are 45 SAMU vehicles that specialize in emergency services in Castellón, Valencia and Alicante. Most