What to do in an emergency

As a nurse and midwife, I tend to work within a hospital environment, and under its policies and procedures. Yet on Tuesday, I was the first medically trained person to arrive at a car accident, and was tasked with calling for an ambulance – something foreign and unknown to me. I called ER24 to alert them so that they could in turn dispatch an ambulance to the scene, and realized I was fully unprepared for this somewhat daunting experience. Find out what is expected of you in an emergency, as well as what to expect, when calling an emergency service provider.

Vital emergency contact numbers:
  • ER24: 084124
  • Netcare: 082 911
  • Fire Station: 10177
  • Police: 10111
  •  Free emergency number: 112
Important information that you will need handy:
  • What happened: this refers to the actual event, was it witnessed, how long ago did it occur, who is involved, how long before the child was attended to by an adult?
  • What signs and symptoms are present: this being what do you see (blood, vomit), and what is the child telling you (feeling dizzy, seeing spots, sore stomach). Are there any physical signs of trauma?
  • Age of the child
  • Health status of the child presently: is the child breathing, is the child bleeding, is the child responsive to verbal or physical (pain) stimuli?
  • Does the child have any known allergies to food, medication, or otherwise, and if so what are they?
  • Medical history: does the child have any acute or chronic conditions such as epilepsy, asthma, diabetes, anaemia, tuberculosis, flu/cold.
  • Surgical history: has the child undergone any operations previously?
  • What medication is the child currently taking for acute/chronic conditions? If the child is taking medication, what are the names, dosages, frequencies and routes of these medications?
  • Has cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or CPR (if necessary) commenced? Is the person trained in this?
  • What is the address where the child is currently? This refers to the province, region, and street as the service providers work throughout South Africa. Physical landmarks to help find the house for example if it is not easily identifiable, is extremely important.
Some really important tips:
  • Ensure your house is easily identifiable with your house number. Have someone waiting outside the house so that the paramedics know that they are at the right place.
  • Remain as calm as possible! Take deep breaths so that you can provide the operator  with clear and concise details.
  • Mark your phones (cellphone and home phone) with a list of emergency numbers, as one may tend to panic in situations.
  • It is important to attend a first aid and CPR course so that effective care can be given to the child while awaiting the paramedics.
  • If uncertain on whether to wait for the paramedics, or to take the child through to the hospital  yourself, call the emergency provider and speak to the nurse on call, who will advise you further.

You may even consider printing this article out and keeping it accessible in case of an emergency.

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Did you feel adequately prepared for an emergency regarding your child/other children?
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