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When to Call the Paramedics

Updated on May 1, 2017
Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah has been trained in First Aid as a consequence of working with teens as an educator, Girl Scout leader, and school volunteer.

What if You Witness a Car Accident or See Someone Who is Injured? Do You Know When to Call the Paramedics?

If an accident looks as bad as this one, you would certainly want to call the paramedics.  What would you do if it was just a little fender bender?  What if the person seems dazed, but tells you not to call the paramedics.  What should you do?
If an accident looks as bad as this one, you would certainly want to call the paramedics. What would you do if it was just a little fender bender? What if the person seems dazed, but tells you not to call the paramedics. What should you do? | Source

Emergencies Happen Unexpectedly - Be Prepared!

Your family is gathered around the picnic table on a beautiful summer day, when suddenly you hear screaming and realize that someone has been injured. Or, you are driving down the street, minding your own business, and you are shocked to witness a car accident happening right in front of you. One thing you can always be sure of … you never expect to witness an emergency on any particular day. However, with a little preparation, you can learn how to react appropriately and, in some cases, you may even be able to save a life.

Knowing what to do in a crisis will make you feel much more comfortable when the unexpected happens. Everyone should know which situations require an ambulance or paramedic and which ones are not serious. Read on to learn a few guidelines to help you decide when you should call the paramedics.

Learn Your Local Emergency Phone Number

Throughout most of the United States, the correct emergency phone number is 9-1-1. However, if you live in a rural community or small town, or in another country, your emergency service number may be different. If so, make sure you have it memorized, loaded into your cell phone, and posted near the telephones in your home. Writing it down is especially important because, in a true emergency, it can be easy to forget.

I have known people who became so upset during an emergency they dialed 4-1-1 instead of 9-1-1. Having the number written down and posted in convenient locations could save precious moments in an emergency.

You may also want to write down and post other contact numbers in a visible location in your home. For example, you may want to quickly know the number to animal control, your doctor's office, neighbors, or relatives who should be called if something happens to you.

Post these numbers in a highly visible location so that a babysitter, relative or friend can easily find them if they are in your home when an emergency occurs.

Keep a First Aid Guide Handy; It Will be Invaluable in an Emergency!

The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook
The American Red Cross First Aid and Safety Handbook

If you are not sure what to do while waiting for the paramedics, get a good First Aid Reference book like this one, which I use. It explains how to do CPR, how to stop bleeding, how to temporarily care for someone who may be having a heart attack or stroke, and how to correctly handle a number of common emergencies. This will be a handy reference if someone nearby is having an emergency.


When Should You Call the Paramedics?

Many people hesitate to call the paramedics and ask for emergency medical services because they aren’t sure the situation they are witnessing is significant enough. Unfortunately, some people have died because the witnesses didn’t want to overreact. When I was a Scout leader, we were taught to be prepared to handle a variety of emergencies. Part of that training was knowing when to call the paramedics, and how to care for the patient while we waited for them to arrive.

Below are some situations where you want to call for medical assistance as quickly as possible.

When to Call the Paramedics:

* If you witness a serious car accident, even if the people are stumbling around and think they are OK. They could be experiencing internal bleeding or a head injury, and not realize it. They may also be in shock or so dazed they are not aware of how seriously they have been injured.

* If you see someone who appears to be suffering extreme pain or physical distress for no obvious reason; for example, if they have severe pain in their stomach or head, you should either take them to the emergency room or call for help.

* If you have reason to believe that a child has taken adult medication, or even too much of their own medication, you should call the paramedics or poison control. Sometimes children mistake medicine, laundry detergent capsules or cleaning supplies for candy or treats. You should also call poison control if you suspect any other situations in which someone may have been accidentally poisoned.

* You should also call for medical assistance if someone is having great difficulty breathing, has severe chest pain, appears to be suffering from heat stroke or frostbite, is unconscious, or is bleeding heavily.

* Call paramedics if someone suddenly develops slurred speech, is having trouble seeing,has an uneven smile and drooping face, or cannot raise their hands above their head. These are symptoms of a stroke, and their best chance of recovering is if they get a quick emergency response. The first hour or two after a stroke is the most important, so don't hesitate to call in these situations. The quicker they get help, the more likely they are to have a full recovery.

* Finally, call the emergency number if someone is attacked by a dog or wild animal, including a snake or venomous insect. You should also call if someone handled a dead bat. Bats which die mysteriously could be carrying rabies. It is vitally important that the victim receive rabies shots as soon as possible. If possible, bring the dead bat, insect or snake with you or show it to the paramedics. However, do not handle it without protective clothing.

Knowing when to call for emergency medical assistance could save the life of someone you love, or even a stranger. Never be embarrassed to place that call! It is far better to be safe than sorry!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Deborah-Diane


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    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Orange County, California

      This is information that everyone needs to know. We all need to be prepared because none of us know when someone we care about could experience an emergency.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orange County, California

      I hope that this situation never happens to anyone I know. However, it is very important that people understand when they really should call an ambulance, no matter what the victim thinks. The victim of an injury may not be the best person to make that decision.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I hope we never encounter this scenario! I can imagine mis-dialing 911 during an emergency situation. This is a good reminder that even though the survivors of an accident appear to be okay, an ambulance is still a must. I know of a man who was hit by a car and then died the next day of internet bleeding. So sad! So much better to prevent than the regret. Very well-written and interesting. Thank you! Voted up and shared.

    • Deborah-Diane profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Often we are uncertain about whether an injury requires the use of paramedics. We have four nephews and a son-in-law who are all firemen/paramedics, and I thought I would pass on some of what I have learned.

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      Good emergency information. It' always better to be safe and not sorry, later that you didn't call. Voted up.

    • stars439 profile image


      7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful hub, and good suggestions for emergeny response. God Bless You.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Good Hub - we need to stop and think about what to do in the case of an emergency - before it happens. Be prepared (and, no, I am not a Boy Scout!)

      Good job - thanks,


    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      you are so right, some people don't like to call and then there are those people who call for the wrong things.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      you are so right, some people don't like to call and then there are those people who call for the wrong things.


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