How do you tell the difference between a true emergency and a minor problem? Often the symptoms the victim feels or the signs you see them exhibit are so alarming that the need for emergency care is obvious. But what should you do if the problem is not so obvious?
Only physicians can diagnose medical problems. But you can learn to recognize certain symptoms.
Most medical problems can be handled by taking the person to the patient's physician or to the emergency department.
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following are warning signs of Medical emergencies:
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
- Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
- Change in mental status, unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty getting them to respond
- Sudden severe pain anywhere in the body that does not go away after a couple of minutes
- Bleeding that will not stop after 10-15 minutes of direct pressure
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
When to Call an Ambulance
When should you call an ambulance instead of driving the person to the emergency room? If you think you might need an ambulance, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the victim's condition life-threatening?
- Could their condition become life-threatening while you are taking them to the hospital?
- Could moving the victim cause further harm?
- Does the victim need the special equipment or skills of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
If the answers to any of these questions are "Yes", it's best to call 911 in Lexington County.
- In Case of Emergency: DIAL 9-1-1
- TELL the dispatcher about what happened. Be calm and speak slowly.
- Explain the type of emergency.
- Give your name and the phone number of the telephone you are using.
- Give the exact address of the emergency.
- You'll have to ANSWER questions like:
- Is anyone hurt? How many victims? Is the injured person conscious? Are they breathing? Can the injured people talk?
- Can they move? Is there a fire? Is anyone trapped?
- LISTEN to the instructions the dispatcher gives you.
- Don't hang up until the dispatcher tells you to. Don't leave the scene of the emergency until help arrives.
It's also important to know what not to do. More common examples are:
- Never move anyone who is unconscious or has struck his head or was injured in a car crash, unless he or she is in danger.
- Don't use ice or butter or petroleum jelly when treating burns. If burns blister, are large or deep, get immediate emergency help.
- Never place anything into the mouth of a victim experiencing seizure activity.
- Do not give home remedies for poisoning. Call 911 immediately for any suspected poisoning. Keep the number to your Poison Control Center handy, particularly if you have children in the house. The PCC is available to offer advice in emergency and non-emergency situations.
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