The first few minutes after an injury or medical crisis occurs are often the most important. The American College Of Emergency Physicians has identified the following warning signs of a medical emergency:
- Difficulty breathing / shortness of breath
- Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
- Sudden dizziness or weakness
- Changes in vision
- Confusion or disorientation
- Any sudden or severe pain
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
Other factors, such as previous medical problems, may be important. If you need to call 9-1-1, always speak calmly and clearly. Give the name, address, phone number, and location of the victim. Describe the nature of the problem, and don't hang up until the dispatcher tells you to.
Knowing what to look for and being prepared when an emergency occurs can save seconds and lives.