Important to Know in an Emergency . . .


* Know what to expect in a medical emergency. *

1. To summon an ambulance, the caller calls 911 and reports the situation and answers any questions the dispatcher has.  The dispatcher is trained in handling medical situations and will probably have very specific questions.  It is important to be as calm and specific as possible.  Always provide your location (never count on the system automatically locating you even though it’s designed to).  If there are complicating factors, (i.e. patient is in a room only accessed by a narrow hallway) please tell the dispatcher about this.  The more information we have, the faster we can mobilize the right resources.  Same if patient has a medical history. (Click to download .pdf of this articlle)

2. Whether Advanced Life Support (ALS) is summoned depends on the situation.  Some events, like a stroke, trigger it automatically.  Others, like a fall injury, involve the responders making a request based on their training and judgment.  Oftentimes, the patient’s age and medical history are relevant to this decision.  It is the responders and the dispatcher who make the Basic Life Support (BLS) or ALS decision, but the patient and their family can be important “advocates”.  So if someone isn’t feeling well and has major cardiac history, you might want to mention that history to the Dispatcher.  In this case, it’s probably going to be ALS, whereas otherwise it might not be.  Even if an ALS ambulance isn’t immediately available, a BLS rig will be sent as soon as possible to do what they can and, if necessary, begin transport, possibly picking up a paramedic at an “intercept” point along the way.

3. A file of life, with a medication list and any Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) forms should go up on the refrigerator.  That’s the first place we are trained to look.  Also, if you have certain serious conditions, it doesn’t hurt to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.  We look for those too.  And, in either case, please include the name and phone number of your doctor and, if you want, someone we should call (family member, health care proxy, etc.).

Hussain Hamdan
Emergency Medical Technician & Hawley Selectboard Chairman

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