Tips to Prepare for a Health Emergency
Are you prepared for a health emergency? Do you know where your closest hospital is? Do you have important information like doctors' numbers and other emergency contacts in an accessible place? While we hope that we'll never be in that situation, it's always best to be prepared.
Address: Make sure that your address is clear and visible from the street should emergency medical technicians need to locate your residence.
Phone: Keep a landline phone in service for emergencies. When contacting 911, the dispatcher can recognize your location right away unlike with a cell phone. In a health emergency, every second counts.
Contacts: Prepare an index card that contains your doctor’s numbers, medical information, allergies, and emergency contact information. Carry it with you at all times, even if you are not of ill health. Add the category ‘Emergency Contact’ to your cell phone so rescuers in an emergency will know just who to get a hold of in a situation.
Emergency Rooms: If there is more than one emergency room in your local area, do your homework now about where you’d like to be taken during an actual medical crisis. Not every ER is the same so do your homework and find out which ER has the best technology for medical emergencies and which hospital your physician works with. You’ll want to ensure the one you choose can help you or your family members in time of need. If you have young children, make sure you speak with your pediatrician to get a referral because not every ER is equipped to handle children’s services.
During an Emergency
Call for help. If you are having a potential stroke, heart attack, or seizure, call 911 and request an ambulance. No matter how sure you are that you can make it to the hospital, you are putting yourself and all other drivers at risk. Plus the medical responders can start treating you right away. Driving yourself means you are losing precious time that can be used to save your life.
Be honest. Tell the truth about your medical history and what happened. Don’t let embarrassment be the cause of your death or disability because you were afraid to tell the ER doctor what is really going on. Not only can you be wrongly diagnosed, you’ll likely incur the expenses of unnecessary scans, tests, and treatments.
Know When to Go
If it's not life-threatening, you have more options about when to seek medical attention. A little cut can wait until your doctor’s office opens in the morning. A more serious problem should be seen at the ER. If you are arriving at the ER of your own accord, know that the least busy times are between 3 am and 9 am. The worst times are Mondays and any day after 6pm. If you have a choice, show up first thing in the morning to seek treatment.
Patience is a virtue. The rule at the ER is the most serious medical issues get attended to first. It can be very frustrating to sit in a room full of ill-feeling people – all who think they are the sickest or the most hurt. Find some gratitude that you are not so serious that you need to be seen first. Be polite and helpful to staff and fellow patients. Average time in the waiting room of the ER is 2 hours and 40 minutes. Bring a book or a small pillow to help you relax during the wait.