The 411 on When to Call 911

Know What to Do in an Emergency

You or someone you are with starts to experience a medical emergency. Do you know what to do? For many medical emergencies, like heart attack and stroke, getting immediate treatment is critical. How do you know when to call 911 and when it’s best to drive the person to the emergency department?

Ask Yourself the Following Questions:

  • Is the condition life-threatening?
  • Could the condition worsen and become life-threatening on the way to the hospital?
  • Could moving cause further injury?
  • Does the person need the skills/equipment of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
  • Could distance, traffic, or weather conditions cause a delay in getting to the hospital?
  • Could a paramedic help decide which hospital can best care for the condition?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes or you’re not sure, call 911 for an ambulance. Even if you think you can get to the hospital faster by driving, 911 can bring many of the lifesaving skills and medications right to you and start care sooner. Emergency crews are trained to begin medical treatment on the way to the hospital, and they can also alert the Emergency Department in advance to the patient’s condition.

When You Call 911 Remember to:

  • Speak calmly and clearly.
  • Give name, address, phone number, exact location of victim, and nature of problem.
  • Don’t hang up until the dispatcher indicates you can.
  • The 911 dispatcher can offer some basic care for you to perform while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.