Before Helping and When to Call 9-9-9

Lets say you have recognized an emergency and have decided to help;you should perform a scene size-up every time you respond to an emergency. As you approach the scene, ask yourself a series of questions:

Are dangerous hazards present? How many people are involved? What is wrong? What happened? Are bystanders available to help?

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), you should call emergency number for help if you answer yes to any of the questions below:

  • Is the condition life-threatening?
  • Could the condition get worse on the way to the hospital?
  • If you move the person, will it cause further injury?
  • Does the person need the skills or equipment of EMS?
  • Would distance or traffic cause a delay in getting the person to the hospital?

If unsure of the answer to the questions above, call 9-9-9. It is better to be safe and call 9-9-9 when in doubt.  ACEP also recommends the immediate transport of people with the following conditions:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting 2 minutes or more
  • A fast heartbeat at rest (>120 to 150 bpm), especially if associated with shortness of breath or feeling faint
  • Fainting (passing out) or unresponsiveness
  • Difficulty speaking, or numbness or weakness of any part of the body
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, or difficulty walking
  • Sudden blindness or vision changes
  • Bleeding from any wound that will not stop with direct pressure
  • Broken bones visible through an open wound, or a broken leg
  • Drowning
  • Choking
  • Severe burn
  • Allergic reaction, especially if there is any difficulty breathing
  • Extremely hot or cold body temperature
  • Poisoning or drug overdose
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Behavioral emergencies (threatening to hurt or kill themselves or someone else)

For more information on ASEC First Aid Training, click here.

Source: ECSI First Aid, CPR, and AED Standard Seventh Edition