Recognizing a Medical Emergency
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following are warning signs of a medical emergency:
- Bleeding that will not stop
- Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
- Change in mental status (such as unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing)
- Chest pain
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Feeling of committing suicide or murder
- Head or spine injury
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Sudden injury due to a motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or large wound, etc.
- Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
- Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
- Swallowing a poisonous substance
- Upper abdominal pain or pressure
- Determine the location and quickest route to the nearest emergency department before an emergency happens.
- Get a personal emergency response system if you are elderly, especially if you live alone.
- Keep emergency phone numbers posted by the phone. Everyone in your household, including children, should know when and how to call these numbers. These numbers include:
- Ambulance center
- Contact numbers for neighbors or nearby friends or relatives
- Fire department
- Poison control center
- Police department police
- Work phone numbers
- Your doctors’ phone numbers
- Know at which hospital(s) your doctor practices and, if practical, go there in an emergency.
- Wear a medical identification tag if you have a chronic condition or look for one on a person who has any of the symptoms mentioned.
What to Do if Someone Needs Help
- Place a semiconscious or unconscious person in the recovery position until the ambulance arrives. do not move the person, however, if there has been or may have been a neck injury.
- Remain calm, and call your local emergency number (such as 911)
- Start Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or rescue breathing, if necessary and if you know the proper technique.
- Upon arriving at an emergency room, the person will be immediately evaluated. Life- or limb-threatening conditions will be treated first. Persons with conditions that are not life- or limb-threatening may have to wait.
U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health