Medical Emergency: 8 Simple Steps to Be Prepared

A Medical Emergency Is In Progress: Imagine the Scene

You or a loved one are having a medical emergency. The common emotions are anxiety, fear, trepidation, and perhaps a bit of frazzled disorganization. On the other hand, some people face emergencies stoically, calmly, and firmly in control. Sometimes people maintain their composure through the event and others, well, their legs become jelly once the immediate crisis has past. Which camp are you a member of?

Perhaps one way to help maintain that calm composure in the face of a medical emergency is to be prepared. Be prepared? Wait! If it is an emergency, how can you possibly be prepared?

Medical Emergency

In the article Emergency Preparedness we looked at how to prepare for others to take care of your responsibilities if you can’t. Today, it is time to take a deeper dive into preparation for a medical emergency. 

First Things First

Someone has called 9-1-1. In a matter of minutes EMS is there, evaluating your condition and asking questions. The best outcome for you results from the best care of first responders. They are highly trained, but you can help greatly too.  EMS can do their job more effectively the more they know about you. What does that mean?

How Can You Help EMS?

  • Have a Medication List readily available. Put one in your wallet and another where you keep your medications.
    • (The kitchen or bathroom are the easiest places for an EMT to find them. Note, they cannot be expected to look too far. Your condition dictates their procedures. If someone has an emergency (a real emergency – unconscious or fainting or other altered mental status or chest pain are the biggies), the goal is to get you out of the house and into the ambulance where they have tools to do a better assessment.)
  • Allergy information is critical too. Be sure to include allergies to medications, materials such as latex, and food allergies.
  • A list of Medical Conditions is important too. Do you have cardiac issues or diabetes? Are there issues with dementia?
  • Do you have an Advanced Directive of any sort?
  • Use the MEDCARD form for a convenient and easily updatable copy of this information. The MEDCARD was prepared by my friend, Christina Boretos, who is a dedicated care-giver to her mother. This form, while great for an emergency situation, is also very helpful for doctor’s visits. Download it to a thumb drive and keep it with you.

Where Do You Put This Info?

  • Do you have an allergy or existing medical condition? Please consider wearing some type of Medical Alert such as those found at Medical Alert Foundation
  • Attach the info to the front or side of the refrigerator. Where is it easiest to see?  There is no guarantee that EMS will see it, but it is a common place to look.Medical Emergency
  • Consider joining a program such as Vial of Life. Place a sticker on your front door notifying EMS of important medical information on your refrigerator or inside of it. The information supplied by this one card can make a big difference  in the emergency care you receive. Knowing your specific conditions and the medications you take can make your care better. As a result, your emergency might have a better outcome.
  • Also, list an emergency contact either in your wallet, on the ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in a non-password protected phone, or clearly on your refrigerator as well.

A Side Note: Make Friends with A Neighbor

  • For those who live alone a daily check-in with a neighbor or other friend can be a life saver. Set up a daily date to phone each other. That daily check-in can be a bright spot in the day and also help you in an emergency.
  • Trade house keys with a friend, especially if you live alone.

Final Thoughts

Medical emergencies can and do happen. Being proactive can make a big difference. We challenge you to take these easy steps today to help save your life.

Complete your MEDCARD or the following steps:

1.) Make a medication list (Pill name, Dosage, and Timing)  with your name, address, and date of birth.

2.) Next, add a list of allergies. (Medications, Materials, and Food)

3.) Third, include a list of medical conditions.

4.) Fourth, make a list of Emergency Contacts

5.) Also, if you have a DNR or other Advanced Directive, attach a signed copy of it too.

6.) Then, attach your lists or MEDCARD to the Refrigerator.

7.) Also, make a contact plan with a neighbor.

8.) Finally, relax, knowing you are prepared.

How many of these steps can you take today?

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4 thoughts on “Medical Emergency: 8 Simple Steps to Be Prepared”

  1. Making friends with a neighbor is a great idea! We recently had a call for a man who had a syncopic episode in his bathroom, fell and got wedged between his toilet and bathtub and couldn’t get up. When he didn’t answer his door or phone, his neighbor, who talks to him every morning, went over, broke the lock (maybe a key under a rock is a better plan :), found him on the floor, and called 911 for him. All was well that ended well, but it could have been hours if he didn’t chat daily with that neighbor friend. On the other hand, I went to another call where an elderly man was knocked down outside (in winter, no less) by his dog at 7am. He broke his hip (again) and couldn’t get up. Finally someone across the lake (!) heard him yelling for help at around 10am. He’d been on the ground for 3 hours, poor guy! Fortunately he had a good jacket on, but he was still pretty hypothermic after being on the cold ground that long.

    All that to say, I really like your make friends with a neighbor idea. Signing up for a LifeLine (worn around one’s neck) is an excellent idea for people with fall risks too. Good article!

    1. I’m so glad you shared these stories! And yes I agree, a key under a rock might be a better idea. Signing up for Life Line or another similar service is a great idea.

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