|Emergency! Should You Drive to the Hospital or Call An Ambulance?
|In a medical crisis it’s vital to get help ASAP. If that means a trip to the emergency room, how do you know if it’s better to
drive or to call an ambulance? In some cases the decision could be the difference between life and death.
Call an ambulance if the injury or illness is a true medical emergency. How do you know?. Guidelines from the American
College of Emergency Physicians can help you make that decision.
Ask yourself these questions. If the answer to any of them is “yes,” call an ambulance:
•Does the condition seem life threatening?
•Could it get worse and become life threatening on the way to the hospital?
•Will you get delayed in traffic?
•If you try to move the person, will it likely lead to more harm?
Among the common symptoms and signs that point to a medical emergency are:
•Shortness or breath or breathing difficulty
•Pain in the chest or upper abdomen that lasts two minutes or longer
•Dizziness, weakness or fainting
•Vision changes, such as double vision
•Sudden, severe pain
•Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes or longer
•Coughing up blood
•Severe allergic reaction, such as to an insect bite
If you call an ambulance:
•Speak slowly, calmly and clearly.
•Give the patient's name, the address and phone number. If you’re on the road, note the street or highway you’re on
and the direction you’re traveling.
•Briefly describe what’s going on and when the problem started.
•Don’t hang up until you’re sure the dispatcher has all the information she needs and that you’ve followed any
instructions she’s given you.
Preparing for emergencies:
Medical emergencies are unexpected, but there are some things you can do to prepare for one.
•Make sure your community is covered by the 911 system. Some rural areas are not. If yours isn’t, get the phone
number for your local Emergency Medical Services and post it by your phone.
•Organize your medical information. List the names and contact info for your regular doctors, chronic conditions such as
diabetes or asthma, surgeries and hospitalizations, and medications. Keep copies at home, in your car and in your
•If you have kids, complete a ''consent to treat'' form for each child. Make copies for the babysitter, school nurse and
anyone else who cares for your children.