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Emergencies: Are You Prepared?
By Roxanne Poon, RN, BS, CPHQ
Emergencies can arise at any time—as an accident, a sports injury, or an illness that takes a sudden turn for the worse. Although you may not be able to prevent a situation from becoming an emergency, you can take action to help ensure you are prepared to handle those times.
Be sure to keep your insurance card with you as well as a list of allergies (especially to medication or latex) and any medications you take regularly or require for any existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes. It’s also helpful to know where the local hospital, emergency room, or urgent care center is located.
Numbers to Keep at the Ready
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends keeping a list of emergency phone numbers by your landline phone or programmed into your mobile phone. This list should include police, fire, poison control (800-222-1222), your local hospital, ambulance service, and your family physician. For students living on campus, public safety officers and student EMTs are often available. Include their numbers on this list.
First Aid Kit
Additionally, to help you respond effectively to even minor injuries, keep and maintain well-stocked first-aid kits in your room and in your car. At some schools student health services provides everything one needs for a decent first-aid kit.
ROXANNE M. POON IS A REGISTERED NURSE WHO WORKS AS A QUALITY IMPROVEMENT SPECIALIST AT A MAJOR TEACHING HOSPITAL IN NEW JERSEY.
Find Out More
Click for some great tips on first aid and dealing with medical emergencies from HealthFinder.gov.
Click for steps you can take to prepare medical emergencies from RedCross.org.
Click for more about preparing for all kinds of emergencies from Ready.gov.
Tips for Being Prepared for Medical Emergencies
Take a first-aid course and become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), including how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
Get yearly health exams, regular exercise, and reduce risk factors that are dangerous to your health.
Don’t drive under the influence (alcohol or drugs), wear your seat belt, and make sure your passengers do as well.
Wear your med-alert bracelet if you have a condition that medical responders need to be aware of.
Warning Signs That Indicate You May be Experiencing a Medical Emergency
• Difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, or shortness of breath
• Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
• Fainting, sudden dizziness, or weakness
• Changes in vision
• Confusion or change in mental status
• Sudden or severe pain
• Uncontrolled bleeding
• Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
• Coughing or vomiting blood
• Suicidal feelings
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