Friday, October 9, 2015

Why Should You Call 911?

There was an article in the news today about police stopping a woman who was speeding because she was taking her husband to the hospital for a possible heart attack. The police kept her from continuing and called for paramedics to come to the scene to assist and transport the patient. This sparked a lot of criticism and debate with many questioning the actions of the police. I chimed in supporting their actions and realized from a lot of the responses that people are just not aware of how to properly deal with an emergency like this.

As a paramedic I always did everything possible to get to a scene quickly but with safety as a paramount concern. My driving style was aggressive but controlled and it was something I was trained for. When we arrived the emergency was technically over in most cases. The vast majority of transports from the scene to the hospital were done without the use of emergency lights and sirens. The person driving would go nice and easy, keeping the ride smooth so care could continue in the back of the rig which is equipped like a hospital room.

When an emergency happens the best course of action is to call for help. Trained and experienced professionals will come to you. This includes the police officers who are trained in first aid and CPR. Jumping in the car and flying down the road in a panic endangers everyone involved and everyone on the road. It also delays care that could have come to the scene. Driving yourself is even worse. I have been to numerous car crashes that were caused by the driver having a medical emergency.

There are certainly true emergencies where time is of the absolute essence. In trauma there is often a need for emergency surgery. This is only immediately available at regional trauma centers. To get people there quickly paramedics typically have the option of calling in air transport to the scene. In an actual heart attack in progress time is muscle. Paramedics at the scene can accurately assess what is going on with the heart via ECG and this is relayed to the appropriate receiving facility that begins preparations for treating that patient. A similar code declaration is used for stroke patients. In all of these situations the most efficient means of receiving timely definitive care is through Emergency Medical Services.

The issue of an extreme minority of police officers being of bad character or making terrible decisions has been so blown out of proportion recently that far too many people have the wrong view of law enforcement. Cops do what they do for very good reasons based on a high level of training and experience. I would say that easily 99% of the work done by all first responders never makes the news. It is a testament to our society that the vast majority of people are able to live peaceful lives unaware of the daily pain and tragedy taking place in their communities. Rest assured that if your worst nightmare does pay a visit there are people who are very well equipped to come to your aid. Trust them and make the smart call.

*The picture used in this blog is a staged and properly licensed image. I am not violating HIPAA rules.

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