Over the years I have been asked this very important questions. When should I call 911, well there are a vast variety of emergency medical conditions. I will attempt to sort them out
by their severity.
1. Chest pain shortness of breath, when this is associated with the feeling of a train or semi sitting
on you chest. A severe squeezing with nausea and or vomiting or both. A feeling of fullness in your chest
2. Your very sweaty (diaphoretic) have a blueish appearance (cyanotic) to the lips, cheeks, finger
3. Pain radiating down both your arms, sometimes more to the left than the right.
4. A feeling of despair that doesn't go away.
I can't hit on all the signs of a heart attack (Myocardial Infarction) , but this should give you a basic idea. Also most of you have heard of the Golden Hour, there is alot of proof that this is true, if you get treatment with in the first hour depending on the severity of your condition you have a great chance of recovery.Any pain that last longer than15 minutes call 911. Don't attempt to drive or have a loved one take you in this can lead to a dangerous situation on the road with other drivers. These days Paramedic's have all or most of the equipment needed in a emergency. And the sooner the pain in under control the less damage you are doing to your heart muscle and veins and arteries.
Ob Gyn Cases, depending on the type and the severity of the case you can use your own judgement with bleeding, when blood hits the water in the toilet it can look massive. If your using more than three to four pads in a half hour's time go to the hospital. Also these can have massive amounts of pain or sometimes none at all.
On pregnancy calls this depends alot on the mother history, any history of placenta previa, placenta abruptio, this can cause hemorrhaging that can at times require emergency surgery,call 911. Also if the mother has had other deliveries how many, contractions how many minutes apart, has her water broke, is she crowning (head showing), in this case call 911, don't move her, let her attempt to get into a position of comfort, believe there won't be one. Support help her breathing, be reassuring. I know dads don't freak we only need one patient. Over the years I delivered 19 everyone was different. And don't boil water, or cut up your $80.00 sheets, the squad will have plenty
of clamps and such.
For your children's emergency, any type of injury DON'T MOVE THEM, unless their is immediate danger fire, earth quake. The first thing all parents want to do is pick the child up and console him or her, please don't if they have spinal injuries they may never walk again. The best thing you can do with limited training is maintain their air way, control bleeding,try to be calm the child is scared of the whole situation that he or she doesn't understand. Never and I mean never get into a battle of words with the other driver if its a MVA motor vehicle accident, the medic's don't need extra victims, and the injured people don't need the drama, they have enough of their own.
For our older folks, they must be watched never discount what they maybe telling you, alot of times they may not be in their right mind, but sometimes if they are having severe pain you will be able to see it in there actions or lack of, if there bed ridden this some times can pose a problem, bed sores, skin peel,skin slip,cyanotic finger nail beds or toe nail beds , blueish color's around the lips. Just keep them safe, if they become short of breath or bleeding and not sure from what call 911. Well I hope this has helped every one some what.
Good luck to all
Greg Armstrong Emt-P/Emt-A/Ems Edu Ret
Thanks for your Reply!
Also, any signs of a stroke should get you calling 911 right away. Slurred speech, facial droopiness, weakness on one side of the body, inability to speak/swallow, etc. The ambulances have a lot of equipment and meds on board as well as a radio link to a doctor, so please don't think you can get to the hospital faster. They have meds at the ER that can actually interrupt a stroke and prevent brain damage, just like they can inject the IV meds that save heart tissue from dying during a heart attack.
My OB doctors always said if you were having enough vaginal bleeding to saturate one pad per hour you should go to the ER and have them call your doctor. One should switch to pads and not use tampons if one is having abnormal bleeding.
Take care, Annette
If you are a chronic pain sufferer I would recommend you have a plastic page protector on your refrigerator with a list of your current medications, the schedule you take your meds, the name of your doctors, what hospital you want to go to and a list of your health issues. Even where you store your purse/wallet or medical cards. This simple bit of information can help the EMT/rescue personnel acess your situation quickly.
If you have pain issues that take your abilty to speak away, you might want to make a set of flash cards with responses to baisc questions. I would recommend some of the following: 1) Did you take your last dose of medication. (With a yes & no that you point to) 2) a drawing of a human body, front and back, that you can point to the pain areas. 3) A card with words that describe your pain (sharp, throbbing, lighting bolts) 4) A pain chart with large numbers that you can point to. 5) A card with a number to a family member/neighbor and what their relationship is, especially if you live alone. You could add more cards with questions such as: Did you fall or injure yourself? How long have you been in pain? Is this a new type of pain? Did you take any breakthrough medications? ( a list of the meds & doses) How long ago did you take them? With numbers and the words minutes / hours / I don't remember. Even a card with just a large YES NO that you can point to for other questions would be helpful.
Instruct your family members or neighbors where you keep this information and what is in the plastic page protector. Show them how to do the flash cards and practice it with them once or twice.
One of the most important things is to lock up your pets before your pain gets too high. Your dog only knows you are in pain and may try to protect you from these invaders (EMT / rescue personnel / even some family members). This could delay your assistance or result in your pet being hurt.
What your saying in a perfect world would be great, but with EMS were not going to have the time to get out your cards out and do alot with them, where you pet is involved we have very certain ways to take care of the pets with out hurting them.As taking care of the patient is very specific there are thing's were do in their exact order and they are done that way so we don't miss anything.
1. If you are unable to speak we will find out fast whether you took to much medication or not enough.
2. If it is a stroke (CVA) look the over all patient vital sign's tell us alot, as well as physical appearance.
3. If the medication is the issue, if its to much we have drugs that we give IV that will take most of the drug out of your system. Then we can re-medicate with another type of narcotic if needed.We have used Narcan for many years it very safe in a hospital as well as squad use.
4. We carry almost 60 diffrent drug's on the squads for all types of medical emergencies, The biggest factor that we don't have is time, most of the time when we are called to the scence its very urgent, were making life saving decisions with in seconds and sometimes not minutes we work in a very uncontrolled enviorment, we don't have the luxury of the emergency department where the doctors get to call the shot's. He has time to discuss other treatments with the patient and patients family. When we have neighbor's some time who get envolved we end up with info over load, we just need one person to give us a basic history, their medication bottles and were in the squad. In fact I like to isolate my patient from their surroundings that we just removed them from you don't know whether it was the enviorment we just removed them from may have made them ill. Carbon monoxide, things of that nature, believe it we have taken people out of thier homes and given them oxygen and they do a 100% turn around,older folks will keep the heat up high and keep the house sealed up tight. Im not trying to be rude to you I just want everyone to understand work very quick we do make mistakes, but it doesn't happen very offten, in these days of the attorneys chasing ambulances have not stopped its just more sofisticated now its scary.
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