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What are some common signs of a possible medical emergency?
Generally, in a medical emergency a person will look and feel ill, and often will deny that anything is wrong. Although you may not know the cause, you can still provide assistance such as obtaining help for the individual. Any combination of these may be a sign of an emergency:
- Noticeably uncomfortable
- Clutching their chest or throat
- Experiencing unexplained confusion or drowsiness
- Having trouble breathing
- Having weakness on one side of the body or face
- Complaining of severe headaches ("worst one of their life")
- Having a droop in their face when asked to smile
What can you do in a medical emergency?
The American Red Cross teaches these emergency actions steps:
- Check the scene first and make sure it is safe for you to enter.
- Always watch out for your safety first! If you have any doubts call 911 or (616.331.3255 - Public Safety) immediately.
- Look around the scene to find clues about what may have happened. If it is safe, approach the victim and look for such things as: unconsciousness, persistent chest pain or discomfort, not breathing or difficulty breathing, no pulse, severe bleeding.
- Determine the number of victims.
- Use personal barrier protection when encountering blood or other body fluids, or when giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. (i.e., gloves, masks, breathing barriers).
- Give them all the information you can and listen for things you can do to help.
- Give your exact location and landmarks (i.e., Building name, room number).
- DO NOT HANG UP until you're told to.
- If you know CPR, use those skills or follow the instructions of the 911 dispatcher. Even if you just stay with the victim and keep them calm, this will be a big help.
- If you don't know First Aid and/or CPR, take a class to prepare yourself to deal with these kinds of emergencies. If you do know these skills, keep them fresh and up-to-date by taking refresher classes every 1-2 years.
Information about CPR & First Aid classes can be found at:
GVSU Campus Wellness Center
American Red Cross - Ottawa County
American Red Cross - Greater Grand Rapids
Note: Information above comes from the American Red Cross and American Heart Association's First Aid and CPR training materials.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, emergency treatment or formal first-aid training. Don't use this information to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider. If you're in a life-threatening or emergency medical situation, seek medical assistance immediately by calling 911.)
Page last modified September 22, 2010