Having a Plan for Medical Emergencies

December 4th, 2013

When it comes to medical response times, every second counts. Often, people underestimate how important an urgent response can be when facing life-threatening emergencies. We sometimes forget that after authorities are dispatched or arrive at a scene, they must still navigate their surroundings, eliminate any hazards, and find the victim, all before being able to treat the emergency. The more quickly responders get to a victim, the sooner they are able to transport them to a hospital and the more quickly doctors can fully treat their medical condition.

What Is the Ideal Time for an Urgent Response?  

While ideal response times can differ, the National Fire Protection Association states that emergency medical responders who provide basic life support care should arrive at a scene within a four-minute time frame. Basic life support (BLS) is defined as medical care for life-threatening conditions that can be provided without medical equipment, such as CPR. Medical responders who provide advanced life support care should be at a scene within eight minutes. Advanced life support involves skills and protocols that extend BLS, such as a defibrillator. It only takes a short time for victims in dire medical emergencies to deteriorate and suffer irreversible damage. Lost minutes and seconds during emergencies can result in permanent disability or death.

What You Can Do to Be Prepared in the Event of an Emergency

Having a proactive plan in case of an emergency can shorten emergency response time, help professionals treat you, and lead to better health outcomes. Steps that help seniors be better prepared in a medical emergency include the following:

  • Keep Medical Information Handy: Ensure all important health information is readily available for medical personnel, family, or caregivers. This includes information about health conditions, allergies, or medical devices such as pacemakers. Make copies and store them in easy-to-access areas.
  • Create a Support Network: The American Red Cross recommends that seniors develop a support network of trusted individuals who regularly check on you and provide help. Seniors should exchange important keys with support group members and let them know where important health information is inside their home.
  • Post a Medication List: Keep a list of your prescribed medications — including the name of each drug and correct dosage — in an easy-to-access location. This helps ensure emergency responders or caregivers can immediately administer necessary medications and record an accurate health history.
  • Consider a Medical Alert Device: A medical emergency device can quickly alert medical personel in the event of an emergency. Such devices are known to enable quicker emergency assistance after an injury and can be worn on the body for easy access.
  • Keep a First Aid Kit: Having an easy-to-reach first aid kit can help you treat injuries or illness in the interim before emergency responders arrive.

Seniors should also have an easy route for emergency responders to follow in order to find them or a loved one. Ask family or friends for help in accessing the outside of your home and making sure the pathways leading to your door are simple to navigate.

Having a Plan Can Shorten an Urgent Response

The importance of an urgent response is something seniors should keep in mind is before experiencing a medical emergency. It only takes a few seconds for a medical condition to go from bad to worse. Taking proactive steps today can help reduce the time of an emergency medical response tomorrow.