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Expecting the Unexpected: How to Be Ready and React in the Case of a Medical Emergency

If the worst happened, and you witnessed a sudden medical emergency, would you be prepared? Would you panic, or would you know exactly what to do? The scary truth is, a medical emergency can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. A medical emergency could happen to you. It is in your own best interest –and the interest of your kids, co-workers and everyone around you– that you be ready to react. Read and heed the following tips and tricks, and you’ll be ready to calmly deal with virtually any medical emergency.

Common medical emergencies and how to react

Among the most common medical emergencies are dizziness and fainting, chest pain, choking, severe bleeding, and seizures, according to WebMD. Disorientation, sudden vision changes and severe abdominal pain are all too common, as well. Each can be a frightening event, but that’s no reason to panic. The number one rule for any sort of medical emergency is to keep calm. Many doctors learn in medical school to stop and take their own pulse for a few seconds before rushing to an emergency. Anyone who understands how to deal with a medical emergency can take a few seconds to assess the situation at hand before taking the proper course of action.

Imagine you’re sitting in your office cubicle, and your boss walks by. He nods, you nod back. Suddenly, his face turns red, he clutches his chest and falls to the floor. Would you know what to do? Mayo Clinic says the first thing to do is dial 911. Don’t delay. It could be a heart attack. If the drive to a nearby emergency care clinic would be faster than waiting for rural ambulance service, call ahead and drive to the urgent care facility immediately. Learn about Our Urgent Care details here. Unless they are allergic, have the victim chew one aspirin to lessen the chance of blood clotting. If the victim has prescription nitroglycerin for chest pain, give them a dose. Never give anyone someone else’s nitroglycerin.

Burns are another injury that one should anticipate, especially in food service facilities. According to Mayo Clinic, the procedure for dealing with moderate burns goes like this: First, hold the burn under cool running water for ten minutes or until the pain subsides. Don’t use very cold water. If the burn is on a hand, gently remove rings as soon as possible. Burns can cause swelling, and rings can become uncomfortably tight. Don’t take your great grandmother’s advice to apply butter to a burn. It won’t help and might even lead to an infection. Instead, slather the affected area with soothing aloe vera gel. To counteract residual pain, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen may be administered. If the skin is broken, or if large blisters develop, seek medical attention.

First aid kit: have one

Every home, office and vehicle should have a well-stocked first aid kit. Keep kits in plain sight, yet away from the hands of young children. Let everyone know where it is. Buy a premade first aid kit at a drugstore or make your own. The point is to have ready access to basic items that can be used to treat most medical emergencies.

Your first aid kit should contain, at the minimum, a selection of elastic bandages for sprains, adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, and non-sticky sterile bandages and paper tape. Gauze, antiseptic solution and antibiotic ointment are also imperative to a well-stocked first aid kit. Instant cold packs, cotton balls, cotton swabs and several pairs of non-latex gloves are also recommended. Eye wash solution, duct tape, scissors and tweezers are important items for your first aid kit, too. Aspirin for headache, Benadryl for insect bites and Tylenol for minor pain may also be added to your first aid kit. Spray pain relievers may also be incorporated into your kit.

Essential medicines for your first aid kit include aloe vera gel for burns, calamine lotion for poison oak and other rashes, cough medicine and hydrocortisone cream. Antacid tablets, emergency phone numbers and an up to date first aid manual must also be part of a well-stocked first aid kit.

Get certified in CPR. Stock a complete first aid kit and know how to use everything in it. Enrol in a lifeguard class at your local YMCA. The more people there are who expect the unexpected and know how to respond, the better it is for everyone.

Charlie Kerr is at nursing school and hopes to someday work in pediatrics due to her love of kids. She shares some tips and ‘must do’s’ when medical emergencies happen to help raise awareness.