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First Aid (cont.)

How to Recognize an Emergency and What to Do

By definition, emergencies happen unexpectedly. They are not planned nor are they welcomed. It is important to have a little preparation to know what to do should a life threatening situation occur.

Calling 911: Most of the United States uses 911 as an emergency code, but it's important that if you are using a cell phone that it is capable of notifying the 911 dispatch center about your location. Most do, but some don't.

Some other emergency considerations are as follows:

  • Injury victims: Most injury victims should not be moved unless they are in danger of becoming more injured, for example from a burning car or submerged in a lake or river. It is often best to keep the victim warm in the same position that they are found in case there is potential for a spinal cord injury. A fully intact person can be paralyzed if they are moved inappropriately. Most broken bones are painful and need emergent care.
  • Overdose victims: Whether accidental or intentional, making the victim vomit is no longer recommended. It is important to get medical advice because even over-the-counter medications can be lethal if too much is injested. Intentional overdoses should always be considered a medical emergency.
  • Stroke and heart attack: These two medical emergencies are very time sensitive because both involve important organs that have lost their blood supply. Time is of the essence in these emergencies, and chest pain and stroke symptoms are true emergencies.
  • Passing out and unconsciousness: It is not normal to be unconscious, and while there are many easy explanations, the situation may be life-threatening. If a person passes out or is unconscious, seem medical care immediately. Often, a young person will drink and/or ingest drugs and will pass out. Friends of the victim are often afraid to seek medical care for fear of "getting in trouble." Many young lives could be saved if friends of a person passed out from drugs or alcohol had gotten the victim medical care emergently.

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