What is a Medical Emergency?
The American College of Emergency Physicians guidelines state that you should call 911 if you answer “yes” to at least one of the following questions:
- Is the situation life-threatening?
- Could the situation worsen and become life-threatening during a drive to the ED?
- Do you need special equipment or skills to move the patient?
- Could traffic or distance cause a delay in getting to the ED, creating a life-threatening situation?
If a medical condition arises suddenly and you believe that immediate medical care is needed, you should go to the ED. Examples include:
- Signs of heart attack (including but not limited to):
- chest pain
- pain traveling into the neck, into the jaw, through the back or down one or both arms
- sweating or
- difficulty breathing
- Signs of stroke: Think FAST!
FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Severe shortness of breath
- Bleeding that will not stop after 10 minutes of continuous direct pressure
- Broken bones or suspected broken bones
- Major injuries such as a head injury
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings