TMH Living Well: When to call 911 | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH Living Well: When to call 911

The Memorial Hospital

Your son falls while climbing on a boulder and is unresponsive. Your toddler has had the stomach flu for two days, and now she is listless. It's time to call 911. For parents, it's hard to make these care decisions on the fly when we're feeling stressed and scared. Here are some guidelines on when to call 911 and when to opt for driving to the ER or walk-in care.

Calling 911

Many of us reserve calling 911 for true emergencies where we need medical help immediately. We are right to think so, but this doesn't mean we should hesitate to call 911.

Paramedics don't want people to question themselves. If it feels like an emergency, call. There are certain signs you should never ignore, including extreme dizziness, chest pain, difficulty breathing and the very obvious like a child who is unconscious, unresponsive or has a broken bone. For these, always call 911.

Accidental overdoses are also a good time to call 911, but remember Poison Control is also a great resource. If your child is responsive and acting fairly normal, start there. The number for Poison Control in our area is 1-800-332-3073. Or if it's easier, memorize the national number at 1-800-222-1222. Poison Control is open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Help the ambulance find your home by giving the dispatcher clues such as the color of your door or leaving the porch light on. Remember, from the moment you call 911 the dispatcher is working behind the scenes and sending someone to help immediately while they are asking you questions.

Urgent Care or the Emergency Department

As a general rule of thumb, call 911 when the situation seems immediately life threatening. Choose the Emergency Department when it seems life threatening, and Urgent Care when it seem serious but not life-threatening.

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Consider the situation carefully before driving yourself to the ED in a life-threatening situation versus calling 911. Think of an ambulance as a rolling ED that has the equipment and training to do anything the ED can do in the first 10 minutes. Plus, they can call ahead and get you more accurate treatment upon arrival, often more quickly.

As an easy guide, here are examples of when to go to the ED (or call 911) and when to use a walk-in or urgent care clinic.

Go to the Emergency Department or call 911 for:

● Broken bones

● Difficulty breathing

● Loss of consciousness

● Fever in newborn

● Deep wounds, heavy bleeding

● Serious head, neck or back injury

● Severe abdominal pain

● Moderate to severe burns

● Coughing or vomiting blood

● Poisoning

● Convulsions, seizures

● Signs of stroke

● Chest pain

● Alarming pregnancy problems

● Talk of suicide or homicide

Use the walk-in clinic for:

● Falls, sprains and severe strains

● Mild asthma attacks and breathing difficulty

● Wounds with moderate bleeding

● Broken toes or fingers

● Fever, flu, upper respiratory tract infections.

● Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration

● Skin rashes

● Urinary tract infection

● Abdominal pain

● Headache

● Dental infection

● Mild burns

● Sore throat

You can always call your child's doctor office for guidance. Bottom line, stay calm and assess the situation as best you can. Then call one of these options for help.

Consider meeting your local first responders in person at the National Night Out this week at the Craig McDonald's. The Memorial Hospital will have its new ambulance on-site for families to tour. You'll receive a lot of free items and activities for your kids complete with fun characters like McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey Bear.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig – improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

If you go

National Night Out

4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday

McDonald’s, 1080 W. Victory Way

— People of all ages can meet with first responders, view ambulance equipment and visit with characters like McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey Bear.

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