What to Do In an Emergency

You never know when you are put into an emergency medical situation.  The best thing you can do is to be prepared.  Regardless of the situation it’s important to stay calm, which can be difficult when your body is experiencing a fight or flight response.  This happens when your brain perceives stress and danger and reacts to protect you from harm.  Signals are sent to your body causing several physiological responses.  Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure increases, there is an increase in respirations, and your senses become sharper.  During these times it is important to take a deep breath and assess the situation.  After you assess the situation you will be able to determine the next steps you should take.  Below are several situations that could occur and how you should respond to them.  Be sure to attend Ask Katie’s event “What Would You Do? Medical Addition”. Tuesday, April 26th 6-8pm, in CDC room 355 to learn more about emergency medical preparedness.  

  • Choking
    • If conscious
      • Encourage continued coughing
    • If unable to cough, speak, or breathe
      • Have someone call 9-1-1
      • Lean the individual forward and give 5 back blows with the heel of your hand
      • If comfortable perform the Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusts)
    • Special considerations
      • If the victim is pregnant or obese position your hands at the base of the breastbone
      • If the victim is yourself, position yourself over a chair or countertop  
  • Seizure
    • What to look for
      • Rhythmic muscle contractions
      • Muscle spasms
      • Frequent head and arm movement
      • Unconscious
      • Loss of control of speech  and actions
    • What to do
      • Position the individual on their side after the seizure
      • Ensure that they are in a safe area
      • Stay with them and call 9-1-1
      • Loosen any tight fitting clothing
      • Do not put anything into their mouth
      • Do not hold their head
      • Make sure to time how long the seizures last
  • Asthma Attack
    • What to look for
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Wheezing
      • Breathing through the mouth
      • Fast breathing
      • Frequent respiratory infections
      • Shortness of breath at night
    • What to do if there’s an inhaler present
      • Remove individual from any asthma triggers
      • Sit them upright
      • If your friend can talk, ask what his or her asthma action plan says to do during a flare-up.
      • If your friend is able to tell you, follow the plan (this includes using a spacer if needed)
    • If no inhaler is present
      • Remove them from the trigger
      • Sit them upright
      • Have them take long, deep breaths
      • Call 9-1-1
  • Severe Allergic reaction or Anaphylaxis
    • What to look for
      • Skin reactions, including hives, itching, and flushed or pale skin
      • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips or throat
      • Constriction of the airways, leading to wheezing and trouble breathing
      • A weak and rapid pulse
      • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
      • Dizziness, fainting or unconsciousness
    • What to do
      • Call 9-1-1 immediately
      • Determine if they are carrying an epinephrine injector and if so determine if you will need to help administer the medication
      • Administer the epinephrine  
      • Have individual lie still on their back
      • Loosen any tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket
      • Do not give them anything to drink
      • Turn them on their side if they are vomiting or bleeding from the mouth
      • If there is no signs of breathing or movement begin CPR

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