Your child falls and you suspect a broken bone. Or, an adult grabs their chest in sudden pain. Your first panicked instinct might be to pile everyone into the car and drive to an Emergency Department, but the time you spend driving through traffic may actually delay critical treatment.
When is the right time to call 9-1-1? If you are unsure whether a situation is an emergency, it’s best to go ahead and call, according to The 9-1-1 Association. The dispatcher is trained to ask all the right questions to determine the severity of the situation, and to assist you as much as possible until the appropriate first responders arrive.
~J. Peter Zopfi, D.O.
These first responders will also have been alerted to your situation while en route, and can prepare for the appropriate emergency treatment. Ambulance crews know how to move a patient without causing further injury, and, when en route to the hospital, can monitor a patient’s condition and be ready to act should it worsen or become life-threatening.
The ambulance crew also alerts the Emergency Department about the patient’s condition and their expected arrival time so doctors and nurses can prepare for immediate treatment.
When you call 9-1-1, the dispatcher will ask a number of questions. Stay as calm as possible, listen carefully to all the questions and don’t hang up until instructed to. Be prepared to give your name, the location of the emergency and location of the victim, and nature of the medical problem. If you’re calling from a cell phone, look for landmarks, cross streets and be able to provide an accurate address.