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Tips for Handling a Medical Emergency
  • Alan Mozes
  • Posted June 4, 2018

Tips for Handling a Medical Emergency

MONDAY, June 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Knowing how to respond to an emergency can save valuable time and lives. But do you know what to do?

Whether it's a life-threatening injury, car accident or medical emergency, the most important thing is to quickly assess the situation and the safety of all involved, said Dr. Chris DeFlitch. He's an emergency medicine physician at Penn State Health Medical Center.

"You need to keep yourself calm, because additional hysterics are not helpful. An emergency is absolutely anxiety-producing, so it's hard for a lot of people not to get flustered," he noted.

"Your first response will be based on your level of expertise and what you feel comfortable doing," DeFlitch said in a Penn State news release.

But for starters, make sure you're not putting yourself in harm's way, he said. For example, by running to a car accident in the middle of traffic or rushing toward an environmental hazard, you increase your own risk of danger.

DeFlitch recommended reaching out for help as quickly as possible by calling 911, and providing as much detailed information as feasible.

In addition, DeFlitch recommends learning how to administer hands-only (chest compression) cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), so you're prepared if a need arises.

It's also helpful to know the telltale signs of an impending heart attack -- pain, pressure or heaviness in the chest, arm pain or shortness of breath, he suggested.

Similarly, learn to recognize the signs of stroke, such as slurred speech, facial droop on one side, or difficulty moving an arm or leg.

In places where you spend a lot of time, know where to find the closest automatic external defibrillator (AED), if one is available, he advised.

If broken bones are a concern, don't move the individual, DeFlitch said. Instead, try to immobilize the person, while compressing and wrapping up the area of injury to minimize pain. Wound-cleaning is also a good idea, when possible.

More information

The University of Michigan has more about dealing with an emergency.

SOURCE: Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, news release, May 2018
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