Accidents happen, and having a game plan always in the back of your mind could be the difference. So, just like with any other emergency or disaster, you need to be prepared. Calling 9-1-1 is only one step in the process. It’s just as important to know what to do before you make the call and after you hang up.
Here are some tips to help you prepare:
The 9-1-1 dispatcher will ask the caller a series of questions. The accurate answers to these questions are imperative to helping first responders locate the victim and begin life-saving treatment. The information you will need to have ready to provide the dispatcher includes:
- The location of the victim, including street address, apartment number and the closest cross street or landmark.
- A phone number to reach you, in case the call is disconnected or emergency personnel have additional questions.
- Chronic medical conditions of the victim.
- Recent medical events the patient has experienced.
This information should be posted on a refrigerator or another common area that is easy to find. Emergency numbers and contact information for physicians, family members or close neighbors should also be located in the same place. Everyone in the family, as well as visitors to the home, including baby sitters, housekeepers and relatives, should know about the 9-1-1 checklist.
Once you have initiated the call to 9-1-1, it is important that you listen carefully to the dispatcher. Follow his or her instructions and answer questions to the best of your ability. Try to remain calm and speak clearly. The most important information you can give is the correct address, so be sure you can provide that information, as well as any details to help responders locate the patient.
The dispatcher may ask you some questions to help evaluate the person’s condition, including:
- Is the person awake?
- Is the person breathing?
- Is there an injury?
- Is the person in a dangerous spot or position where further injury could occur?
- Has the person experienced a recent major medical event?
- Does the person have a chronic medical condition?
- Remember, you should NOT hang up the phone until the 9-1-1 operator instructs you to do so.
While waiting for the emergency responders, you should:
- Stay calm and reassure the person help is on the way.
- Make the patient as comfortable as possible.
- If there is a wound, begin first aid.
- If the person is not breathing and you are trained to administer CPR, begin doing so.
- Gather the person’s medications to provide to emergency personnel.
- Clear the area around the patient to provide easy access for the emergency responders.
- Try to remember the facts about the accident or illness. If the patient is showing symptoms of a stroke, make note of when the symptoms first occurred.
Have someone at the door or in front of the house / building to guide emergency personnel to the patient.