Your head is spinning, and you feel like you’re going to collapse – or you feel a sharp pain in your back and are unable to walk. What do you do? When a medical emergency occurs, every second matter. That is when panic sets in, and the ability to take the right action is compromised. It is imperative that you know what to do in harrowing situations like a health emergency, the steps you should take, and where to go. In light of this, here are 4 things you should know to navigate a medical emergency.

Calling an ambulance is the smartest thing to do in case a person is found unresponsive or is displaying a disturbing alteration in behavior. An ambulance will take you straight to the emergency department (ED). There are numerous instances for which you should call an ambulance, which include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Severe chest pain
  • Respiratory complications
  • Profuse vomiting and/or vomiting blood
  • Sudden seizure
  • Symptoms of stroke (feeling weakness in one arm and not being able to speak coherently)

Other than calling an ambulance, you can consult a nurse if the emergency does not seem too severe. Today, due to the ease of online education, more nurses are trained with qualifications like online dnp programs that equip them with the right knowledge to evaluate the severity of an emergency.


  • Don’t Drive Yourself to The Hospital

In a real emergency, driving yourself can cause numerous risks. For example, what if your condition worsens halfway to the hospital? What are you going to do then? What if you need CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in case you stop breathing? What are you going to do if you’re bleeding out or suffer from a stroke?

Suppose your condition is less severe. For example, you have minor abdominal pain. In this case, it would make sense to ask someone to drive you to the hospital if you’re not calling the ambulance. Understand that there can still be a lot of caveats when the situation is serious. Therefore, calling an ambulance is the most reliable and safest way to reach an ER. Moreover, EMTs are trained and equipped to provide emergency treatments in the ambulance. Once you reach the ER, they will know what to tell the doctors so that you’re treated urgently.

  • Know Which Department to Go To

A hospital emergency department is open 24/7 and staffed with round-the-clock physicians and nurses. Plus, they are equipped with the necessary technology and resources to stabilize patients and treat a multitude of illnesses and injuries. However, you should keep in mind that a free-standing emergency department doesn’t provide surgical assistance. They are going to transfer you to a hospital ED for more extensive care. But every ED is bound by law to provide emergency medical services whether a patient qualifies for treatment financially or otherwise. A triage nurse will be assigned to you who is going to assess your condition and treat you accordingly.

On the other hand, urgent care centers are more like walk-in emergency clinics where you won’t have to wait long to be treated, unlike a hospital ED. Urgent care centers are more suitable for minor illnesses and injuries such as cuts and bruises, getting an injection, treating wounds, a sprained ankle, etc. However, they are not required to treat patients who can’t pay for their services, and they are not open 24/7. This means that if you can’t pay, you will not be able to see a physician.

  • Be Ready for the Unexpected

Medical emergencies come unannounced and can be overwhelming. This is why you must be proactive and ensure all your necessary documents and paperwork is ready in advance. This can potentially be a lifesaver! Here is what you should do:

  • Make 2-3 copies of your updated medical conditions. This must include all the medications you’re currently on (over-the-counter and prescription). Store your lists somewhere you can remember. For example, stick one on the fridge, keep one in your wallet, etc.
  • Make sure you carry your health insurance card in your wallet at all times, no matter where you go. This will be helpful in case you fall unconscious when you arrive at the hospital. The medical staff will go through your wallet for identification.
  • Keep with yourself the contact information of your primary care doctor and/or any medical professionals.
  • Make separate copies of your family’s medical history and all other relevant documents that can be found easily in an emergency.

Despite everyone telling you to stay calm and composed, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed in a medical emergency. However, the best thing would be to act fast. While you can’t predict a health emergency, you can surely be prepared for one. These are all the necessary steps you must take to ensure that you survive a medical emergency safely.

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