EMS Beat: How to call an ambulance

By Albee Bockman, AEMT-P

We are fortunate to live in a county that has 911. So calling for help is easy!

When calling for help, al­though the situation may be stressful, it is so important that you speak CALMLY and CLEARLY. The Dispatcher at the Sullivan County 911 Center will immediately ask, “What is the emergency?” Be precise as you give the nature of the problem, your address, and your phone number. It is very important not to hang up the phone until the dispatcher tells you to. They may need additional information or need to give you instructions.

In the last issue of the Sen­tinel, I listed which kind of emergency should be treated by your doctor OR a hospital. It is critical that you distin­guish between a minor sick­ness and a true emergency. As parents and mature adults, we have seen our share of in­juries and catastrophes over the years, and we have be­come familiar enough with the symptoms of common ill­nesses and other ailments to know whether an ambulance is truly required. But whatever you do, if you are not sure, do not hesitate to call 911 for as­sistance. Trust your instincts! Life has given us the ability to recognize unusual behavior or other symptoms that indicate an “emergency.”

Here are several questions to ask yourself whether you need an ambulance as op­posed to other means of trans­portation:

  1. Is the victim’s condition life-threatening?
  2. Could the victim’s condi­tion worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the hospital?
  3. Could moving the victim cause further injury?
  4. Does the victim need the skills or equipment of Para­medics?
  5. Would distance or traffic conditions cause a delay in getting the victim to the hos­pital?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” or if you are not sure, than it’s best to call 911 for an ambulance. This is true even though you can sometimes get to the hos­pital faster by driving your­self. BUT . . . Paramedics communicate with the Emer­gency Room Physician and receive orders for intravenous therapy, EKG monitoring, medication and other ad­vanced skills on the way to the hospital. Driving a loved one in your car during a stressful period is looking for trouble! We are so fortunate to have highly skilled Paramedics and Mobile Intensive Care Ambu­lances in Sullivan County.

I hope these hints are help­ful. For any further informa­tion or tips, do not hesitate contacting me at my office.

Stay well and be safe, Hur­leyville!!!