In a life-threatening emergency, it is critical that someone activate EMS by calling EMS/9-1-1. Activating EMS will send emergency medical help on its way as quickly as possible. The sooner EMS personnel arrive, the higher the chances of a positive outcome.
EMS varies from community to community. Most people call 9-1-1 for help in emergencies, but in many workplaces, you may need to dial a different designated emergency number instead. If you live or work in an area where 9-1-1 is not the number to call in an emergency, make sure you know the designated emergency number to call.
Phone carriers are required to connect any 9-1-1 call made from a mobile phone, even if the phone does not have an active service plan. In most areas, you cannot text 9-1-1. Unless you have confirmed that the 9-1-1 call center in your area supports texting, you should always call.
When to Call EMS/9-1-1
At times, you may be unsure whether EMS personnel are needed. To make the decision, use your best judgment based on the situation, your assessment of the ill or injured person, and information gained from this course and other training you may have received. Trust your instincts. When in doubt, make the call. If you think that an emergency exists, it probably does; you should call EMS/9-1-1 for professional help immediately.
Call EMS/9-1-1 if there is a danger to you or others, or if the ill or injured person has any of the following conditions
- Unresponsiveness or an altered mental state (e.g., confusion)
- Difficulty breathing or no signs of breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- Life-threatening or uncontrollable bleeding
- Severe headaches
- Abnormal speech
- Injuries to the head, neck, or back
- Blood in the vomit or urine
- An apparent mental health crisis
- Imminent childbirth
You should also call EMS/9-1-1 if the ill or injured person is not easily accessible, or if the situation involves any of the following
- An explosion
- A motor vehicle collision
- Hazardous materials
- Downed electrical wires
- Swift-moving water
Poison Control Centres
If none of the conditions above apply and you suspect that poisoning is the cause of the person’s condition, call poison control instead of EMS/9-1-1. If any of the above conditions are true (for example, a person who may have swallowed poison is having difficulty breathing), or you are unsure of whether to call EMS/9-1-1 or poison control, call EMS/9-1-1.
Calling EMS/9-1-1 for a Child in Your Care
If you are a professional caregiver, you may have additional considerations when calling EMS/9-1-1 for a child in your care.
Once you have activated EMS, call another caregiver to come and stay with any other children while you attend to the ill or injured child. If the child is being taken to the hospital, call his or her parent or guardian and ask the parent or guardian to meet you there. If you are traveling in an ambulance, tell them you will call again when you know the name and location of the hospital and that you may not know this information until after you arrive. If you cannot go with the child in the ambulance, be sure to give the paramedics the child’s medical information and your contact information.
After an Emergency
Being involved in an emergency and providing first aid can be stressful. After the emergency is resolved, you may have lingering feelings such as uneasiness, doubt, anxiety, and fear. After dealing with an emergency, it is often helpful to talk to somebody about the situation.
Everyone reacts to stressful situations differently. It is very difficult to predict who will or will not be affected by abnormal events. Some individuals may feel better in the few days after the event. Others may find that it takes longer for their stress to go away and that it begins to impact their relationships.
Consider seeking professional help if you experience any of the following for more than two weeks after the emergency.
- Crying fits or uncontrollable anger
- Trouble eating
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of engagement with former interests
- Unusual or unexplained pain (e.g., headaches or stomach aches)
- Feelings of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness
- Staying away from family and friends
- Ignoring daily tasks, such as going to work
For help dealing with ongoing stress symptoms, contact your local crisis intervention line. You may also speak to your family doctor or mental health professional.
If an incident occurs in a workplace (including a marine environment), it must be documented properly. The documentation may be paper and/ or electronic. The reports you create are official legal documents: paper versions should be filled out in pen (not pencil), with any changes or corrections crossed out and initialed.
Good documentation is
- Complete and accurate
- Completed as soon as possible (while your memory of the incident is fresh)