How to respond in an emergency

In an emergency, it’s normal to react with nervousness and confusion about what to do. The good news is that effective preparation can help you keep your cool and respond well in an emergency.

In this post, CPR Plus founder Stacy Graff Baehmann shares her tips on dealing with medical emergencies. This information comes from more than 25 years of training others in life-saving skills and 10 years as a volunteer EMT.

“As an EMT, my initial reaction to an emergency was always, ‘What do I need to do and who needs me first?’ After the lead paramedic triaged the scene, I would zone in on the patient. And then I just performed the skills I had practiced many, many times before. Doing this was actually simple because it was so ingrained. Plus, I was confident because I’d already proven to myself that I knew what I was doing. And I knew I could help my patients, that I was the one they were counting on. Other than that, I put blinders on to all the peripheral noise and heightened reactions. I went to work, focusing only on my patient.”

Stay calm for yourself and the person you’re helping

  • First, take a deep breath.
  • Count to 10 and recall the things you know to help the ill or injured person.
  • If necessary, call 911 for help.
  • Make sure the scene is safe. If you get hurt, will someone else be able to help you and the other person? (More on how to do this below.)
  • Remember the person who’s hurt may see how you’re responding to the incident. So try not to react in a way that scares them even more.
  • Focus. You’ve got this. Remember you are the one who knows what to do and how to do it. The other person is counting on you.
  • When it’s all over, allow yourself to experience the emotions you didn’t have a chance to feel in the moment. Depending on the severity of the incident, you might even feel like you’ve been beat up from the inside out. Part of this is the adrenaline crash. Working through your emotions will allow you to be more calm and present the next time an emergency arises.

Make sure the scene is safe

  • Look around for things that could hurt you. Examples include liquid leaking from a crashed car, live electrical wires at a work scene, ice on pond where someone has fallen in, etc.
  • Do your best to clear the scene or work around obstacles if it’s safe to do so. If it’s not, call 911.
  • Again, remember that if you get hurt trying to save someone else, you’re both in trouble and now relying on a third person for help.

Call 911

  • Before you make the call, take a long, deep breath and do your best to calm down. This will help you focus and give helpful information to the 911 operator.
  • When the operator answers, be ready to tell them where you are. Contrary to popular belief, 911 can’t always pinpoint your location.
  • Also be ready to tell the dispatcher what’s happening and how many people are involved.

Practice, practice, practice

  • Take training classes that offer hands-on practice. Just like any skill, the more you practice, the better prepared and more confident you’ll be at it.
  • Use repetitive hands-on practice to create muscle memory. When the emergency occurs, performing CPR or First Aid will come almost instinctively and reduce panic.

Ready to start prepping and practicing so you’ll be ready?

Contact us today to book a class for yourself or your staff.

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