First aid resources and information.
- Knowing what to do ahead of time will potentially prevent an emergency, possibly even save a life.
- Every emergency can be handled by remembering four things: prevent, prepare, recognize, act. Quick action can save a life, and the initial minutes after an injury or medical crisis are frequently the most important. The key is knowing what to do, remaining calm, and making a decision to act. Calling 9-1-1 is one of the most important things you can do.
- Have a complete First Aid Kit available at all times and know how to use it. For details and examples of what to include, please refer to our First Aid Checklist.
Q. What steps can I take to prevent emergencies?
A. Preventing emergencies means getting yearly doctor’s exams and regular exercise. Protect your health by determining whether you’re at risk for any life-threatening conditions, and follow your doctor’s suggestions to reduce any risk factors that can be dangerous to your health. For example, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit.
We’re all busy people, and there’s never enough time, but is it easier to handle a heart attack in progress or to prevent it in the first place with regular exercise and visits to the doctor? If we don’t prevent now, we’ll pay later.
Q. How can I prepare for an emergency?
A. After doing everything we can to prevent an emergency, the next step is to prepare for one. While it may seem negative to prepare for the worst, preparation takes prevention one step further. It means that if an emergency does occur, we can handle it calmly, quickly, and effectively to minimize its impact.
Being prepared means keeping a list of emergency numbers by the phone. The police, fire department, poison control center, local hospital, ambulance service, and your family doctor’s office should all be included.
Being prepared means making a list of all the medications you and your family take and their dosages. In an emergency, you might not be able to speak for yourself, so carry it with you. This list could help prevent serious drug interactions.
Also make a list of allergies, especially drug allergies or those with severe reactions. This list will help ensure that the care you receive won’t make matters worse.
Take a first-aid class. A basic class will teach CPR and proper methods for treating burns, wrapping sprains, applying splints, and performing the Heimlich maneuver. First-aid classes also will help you learn how to remain calm and how to calm others in an emergency.
Q. How do I recognize an emergency?
A. Recognize the difference between a minor crisis and a life-threatening emergency. For example, upper abdominal pain can be indigestion, ulcers, or an early sign of a heart attack. A toddler who falls down in the yard unconscious may have tripped or he could have been stung by an insect and be having an allergic reaction.
Not every cut needs stitches, nor does every burn require advanced medical treatment. Part of handling an emergency is being able to evaluate warning signs and make a fast decision. But it’s always best to err on the side of caution. In an emergency, always call 9-1-1 or the local hospital for assistance.
When should you call an ambulance instead of driving to the emergency department? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the victim’s condition life-threatening?
- Could the victim’s condition worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the hospital?
- Could moving the victim need the skills or equipment of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
- Would distance or traffic conditions cause a delay in getting the victim to the hospital?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you are unsure, it’s best to call an ambulance.