4 Mistakes We Make In The First 24 Hours Of A Medical Emergency

Mistake #1—Not asking questions before calling 911
People fall into two categories when crisis strikes, Michelson says: not dialing 911 soon enough, or calling when it’s not necessary. Walking through these questions, whether it’s you or someone else who’s in trouble, he says, will help you determine the right next step.

- How old is the injured person? If they’re very young or very old, it’s better to call 911.

- Is the person in poor health in addition to this situation? The more underlying health issues a person has, the more you should err on the side of calling an ambulance.

- What body part seems to be the trouble? “If the problem is in the torso, close to vital organs, or if you suspect a head injury, that should trigger a call to 911,” Michelson says. Limb injuries are less likely to be critical, and the same goes for cuts and abrasions, which can generally be handled by an urgent care clinic.

- Is your local ambulance service volunteer or paid? If it’s volunteer and you’re able to get to the hospital on your own (with a friend or family member driving), that’s probably your best option. Volunteer services, where the providers generally aren’t based at a firehouse or hospital and have to be called in when a 911 request arrives, are typically slower than paid programs, whose paramedics are ready and waiting.

Mistake #2—Settling for the closest ER
You know that not all emergency rooms are created equal, but it’s easier than you may think to pinpoint the best one in your area, and that’s something you should do before a crisis comes up. “Hospitals are graded as trauma centers, from level 1 to 5, with 1 being the best,” Michelson says. “A level 1 trauma center —> Read More