What Can You Do To Get Ready For A Medical Emergency?
Know how to begin basic life support techniques until professional help arrives. Courses in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and Basic First Aid are offered by TIERS, your local American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
- Post a list of all emergency telephone numbers (Police, Fire Poison Control Centers, Physicians) on or near all phones in your home. Make sure that 788-1441 is on the list, and programmed into all cell phones.
BUT…CELL PHONES ARE A PROBLEM!
It is even more important to stay calm and follow the same rules as above when on a cell phone. Much of the TIERS area still spotty cell service, and remember that cell phones sometimes break up. Also, some cell phone systems–Vonage, for example, WILL NOT operate correctly when 9-1-1 is dialed.
YOU MUST STAY CALM, LISTEN TO THE PERSON YOU’RE SPEAKING WITH, AND NEVER HANG UP YOUR CELL PHONE UNTIL THE AMBULANCE ARRIVES.
- Print this list and post it, too.
- Post a clear set of directions to your home alongside those emergency numbers in case your mind goes blank, or if a child or visitor has to call for help.
- Make certain your children know how to dial for help in the event of an emergency, including how to call on a cell phone.
- Your house numbers must be posted clearly so the ambulance can easily find you. TIERS offers highly reflective address signs for sale.
- Leaving on the porch light, even during the day, assists the ambulance in finding the correct location. If possible, have someone flag down and meet the ambulance.
- Have File of Life information available if possible. TIERS has free File of Life kits.
- Gather all the medications the person is taking in one spot for the ambulance crew to inspect, or have a correct, up-to-date list of medications available.
- Do not “dress” the patient for travel – most often the the ambulance crew will need to access the patient’s arms, chest and abdomen for examination, blood pressures and electrocardiograms.
- If you have a pet, secure it in another room. Even the friendliest pet can turn violent when strangers burst into the room, and will get in the way of specialized medical equipment used by the ambulance crew.
- If you can, make sure that all furniture is moved out of the way and the stairs and floor are clear for the crew to bring in their stretcher and equipment. Turn all the lights on in the room where the patient is.
- Ambulance crews need to use oxygen on many calls so be sure to put out all cigarettes or other smoking items.
- Often items that simply need to be thrown away may be left at the scene of an intense emergency. Provide a wastebasket or bag to dispose of unwanted items.
CALL FOR HELP BEFORE STARTING FIRST AID!
Once you’ve called 9-1-1 and the dispatcher has help on the way, what can you do to help the patient? The answer will depend on what type of illness or injury there is, but here are some basics.
It is always good to know how to begin basic life support techniques until professional help arrives. Courses in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and Basic First Aid are offered by TIERS and your local American Red Cross or American Heart Association office.
Remember A B C: 1. Airway 2. Breathing 3. Circulation
If there has been an accident, a seizure, choking, drowning or vomiting, you must make sure the patient can move air in and out of his lungs. See if the person can talk out loud, if they’re conscious. If not, look into the mouth to see if there is anything in there. Carefully sweep your finger through the mouth to clear an object, vomit or excess saliva. Be sure not to push anything down the throat.
If the person is having a seizure or may have another, DO NOT insert a finger into the mouth.
If the person may have a neck or head injury, DO NOT move the head or neck unless you absolutely have to to clear the airway, and then move as little and as gently as possible.
2. Breathing/ Rescue Breathing
If the airway is clear, but the person is not breathing or breathing so slowly or shallow that their lips begin to turn pale blue, you must breath for them. Take a fresh breath, place your mouth over the patient’s, pinch their nose shut, and exhale into their mouth. Look to make sure the chest rises. If it doesn’t, re-check the airway!
Start with two breaths, then one every five seconds. Count “one Mississippi two Mississippi three Mississippi four Mississippi five Mississippi” out loud to keep pace.
Children require shallower breaths.
Infants require only a puff of air from your cheeks.
Check every minute to see if the patient is now breathing on his own.
Many people panic at the sight of blood, and try to stop bleeding first. Make sure that A and B are done first! Then, control bleeding as needed.
Exception: If bright red blood is spurting, not running or oozing, this bleeding MUST BE CONTROLLED IMMEDIATELY. Place pressure over the site of the spurting. Apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart if the bleeding does not slow.
IF you are SURE that the person’s heart has stopped, performing CPR is the best way to help the person survive. Every person should know CPR, but even if you haven’t been trained in CPR, doing the best that you can is better than doing nothing! Most people can do effective CPR from just what they’ve seen on TV in a brochure they’ve read. The most common mistake is forgetting to do rescue breathing (see 2. Breathing/ Rescue Breathing above).
After A B C:
- Keep the patient calm, as well as others in the room or area. Take charge calmly and quietly. Reassure them that help is coming very soon.
- Keep the patient comfortable, warm and dry, especially if they’re outside.
- If the patient is injured, don’t move them if possible.
- Patients with difficulty breathing will want to sit up or lean over to breathe easier.
- Keep an eye even on patients who look fine; they may need help at any moment.
- If the patient is stable or there are others there to help, gather the patient’s medications if there are any. The ambulance crew will need them.
- If someone is able to get a relative on the telephone, keep them on the phone so that the ambulance crew can speak to them about the patient’s medical history.
- If the patient is stable or there are others there to help, gather personal belongings the patient may want with them in the hospital, find keys to lock the house if no one else is there, and call relatives to let them know what’s going on
HOW TO CALL AN AMBULANCE
If you live in Jefferson County, calling for help is easy. DIAL 9-1-1. When your call is answered, BE CALM. Speak slowly and clearly, and listen to the questions the dispatcher asks you.
- Give your name
- Give the address where the emergency is
- Give the phone number you’re calling from, especially if it’s a cell phone
- Give the location of victim (such as upstairs in the bedroom)
- Tell the dispatcher the nature of the problem.
- DON’T HANG UP until the dispatcher tells you to. They may need additional information or need to give you instructions.
BUT…CELL PHONES ARE A PROBLEM!
It is even more important to stay calm and follow the same rules as above when on a cell phone. The person on the other end has to get your information clearly and relay it to emergency responders, and remember that cell phones sometimes break up. YOU MUST STAY CALM, LISTEN TO THE PERSON YOU’RE SPEAKING WITH, AND NEVER HANG UP YOUR CELL PHONE UNTIL THE AMBULANCE ARRIVES.
Also, some cell phone systems–Vonage, for example, WILL NOT operate correctly when 9-1-1 is dialed.
HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
Program 315-788-1441 into every cell phone. This number goes directly to the Jefferson County Dispatch Center and comes in as an emergency call.