It is important to know what to do in a medical emergency — it can save a life. One of the first questions to ask is whether the situation you are dealing with is truly an emergency that requires a visit to the emergency department. Here are some warning signs:
Bleeding that will not stop
Severe or extreme difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath
Change in behavior or confusion
Persistent chest pain or pressure
Coughing up or vomiting blood
Thoughts of committing suicide or harming another person
Head or spine injury
Severe or persistent vomiting
Sudden injury due to a motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or a large wound
Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
Swallowing a poisonous substance
Childbirth complications or imminent delivery
New or worsening slurred speech
New or worsening confusion
Loss of consciousness or fainting
Difficulty waking up another person
Trained dispatchers may ask additional questions related to their protocol to gather additional information. Be honest and forthcoming when answering questions so the first responders know how best to help you and how best to keep themselves safe.
Before help arrives:
Stay on the phone with the dispatcher and do everything they tell you to do and don’t hang-up.
Do CPR and use an AED if available.
Move automobiles out of the driveway.
Clear a path to the victim.
Gather meds and medical history.
Send a person outside to guide responders.
If at night, turn on outdoor lighting.
Call 911 if you believe you are experiencing an emergency.
David B. Hiltz