A medical emergency is an event that you reasonably believe threatens your or someone else in such a manner that immediate medical care is needed to prevent death or serious harm to health.
When to Call “9-1-1”
Examples of medical emergencies include:
- someone faints/passes out or is found unresponsive;
- breathing problems (difficulty breathing or no breathing);
- persistent chest pain or pressure;
- a rapid heartbeat at rest, especially with shortness-of-breath or feeling faint;
- no signs of circulation;
- difficulty speaking, numbness, or weakness of any part of the body;
- sudden dizziness, weakness or mental changes (e.g., confusion, very odd behavior, difficulty walking);
- sudden blindness or vision changes;
- severe bleeding from body cavity or wound that doesn’t stop with pressure;
- vomiting blood or passing blood;
- convulsions, severe headache, or slurred speech;
- sudden intense pain ;
- severe burns;
- allergic reaction, especially if there is difficulty breathing;
- extremely hot or cold skin;
- suspected poisoning or drug overdose;
- injuries to head, neck, or back;
- someone threatening to hurt or kill themselves or someone else;
- if the casualty is involved with any of the following:
- fire or explosion;
- poisonous gas;
- downed electrical wires;
- swift-moving water;
- motor vehicle collisions; or,
- can't be moved easily.
What to Do During a “9-1-1” Call
- Stay on the phone until the dispatcher tells you to hang up.
- Answer all of the “9-1-1” dispatcher’s questions.
- Follow any instructions provided by the dispatcher, including:
- care to provide for the person in distress; or,
- directions for making your location easier for responding Paramedics to locate.
- If you or the person in distress has Advanced Directives or other legal documents with care instructions, have these available when help arrives.
- If you call “9-1-1” by mistake, do not hang up before the call is answered and you have spoken with a call-taker. Otherwise emergency crews may be sent to investigate your situation.