Most people think about trying to stay healthy. They exercise, look for the best doctors to get advice from, and go to the clinic or doctor’s office for preventative care and checkups. What we are not so good at is being prepared for when an emergency strikes. When the moment of truth comes, we might not know where to get emergency care, or where the emergency room or medical clinic might be. In fact, one of the chief complaints of an emergency room doctor is typically that patients come to the emergency room not sure what their medical problem is and without having brought a list of medications they’re currently taking. You don’t want to be caught out like this, so here’s a list of things to do to make sure you and your family are ready if there is a medical emergency.
- Know where the urgent care clinic is located and where the emergency room is. You don’t know which one you might need, so be sure that you’re prepared to go to either one. Find out where they are, drive by and note their location, then you will know where to go when an emergency strikes.
- Have an emergency contact list. You need to keep a list of emergency phone numbers on hand. You need the phone numbers of your doctors, family members, close friends who could help, and the clinic or emergency room number nearest you.
- Have a first-aid kit prepared. Your first aid kit should include bandages, disinfectant, thermometer, cold and hot packs, allergy medications, pain medications, medical tape, and anything else that might be specific to your families health needs, such as an EpiPen if somebody has a serious allergy.
- Keep a list of everyone’s health information. This includes all allergies, everyone’s blood type, the immunization status of children, a record of major surgeries or major medical events (like a heart attack or diabetic coma), any special needs, and a list of all medications that everyone is taking. If you have this ready before the emergency strikes, you won’t have to try to desperately gather it together at the worst possible moment on your way to the clinic or emergency room.
- Always plan for someone to go in the clinic or emergency room who understands the situation. It’s not always possible for an injured person to speak clearly and competently about what happened to them, even if the injury seems minor. Even a minor injury can cause pain, which can lead to shock, and people in this condition may not be able to answer questions such as whether or not they are on a blood thinner, or “when was the last time you felt well?” Someone who knows the patient always needs to be ready to go inside and help the doctors and nurses understand the situation as much as possible.
- Gather as much information about the incident as you can. If someone has been injured, try to find out whatever you can about the injury and the circumstances surrounding it. Of course, if the injury is life-threatening you should not wait around to gather information. You should head to one of the emergency medical clinics immediately. If a person is ill, as you’re on the way to the clinic consider everything that you can remember about the illness. When did it first manifest? How long has the person been feeling this way?
- Recognize the symptoms of a medical emergency. If someone needs medical attention urgently but the situation is not life-threatening, you have time to get to the clinic and consider what you want to do. There are certain medical emergencies that necessitate an immediate trip to the hospital emergency room. Call 911 or head to the emergency room immediately for serious breathing problems, chest pain, vomiting blood, head or spinal injuries, persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, bleeding that will not stop, a change in mental status, or poisoning.
Your health and the health of your family can be seriously affected by how prepared you are when the moment of truth arrives.