An emergency has occurred and you call 911. What happens next? As children we were taught to call 911 if there was an emergency, but did they ever tell us what to say after? This is a critical piece of the puzzle that is necessary for a successful outcome in an emergency situation!
Staying calm is MUCH easier said than done, however taking a deep breath and remaining calm assists tremendously in the delivery of quality care to the individual in need. Being calm comes with being prepared, ideally before the issue even arises. Download and fill out this Family Emergency form created by our partner, Boston CPR Partners. Place it in a centralized area in your home; the fridge is always a great spot. This form holds crucial information that a parent can fill out weeks, months or years ahead of time, to serve as a guide if calling 911 is ever necessary. You will have all the information in front of you, now you just need to read it. This decreases the anxiety that fills the room and puts you in the driver’s seat. Best of all, this form allows you to reclaim control of the situation!
Parental information on the Family Emergency form offers names, cell phone and work phone numbers of each parent. Many times, we leave the work phone space blank, as most of us do not have direct extensions to our work desks anymore. However, this is the perfect spot to write the front desk’s number, as the receptionist can alert you to a family emergency if you’re in a meeting. If you need to call 911 always do that first!
If you cannot reach a parent or guardian, it is always beneficial to have an emergency contact listed on the Family Emergency form. For example, if the parents are vacationing out of the country and the babysitter cannot reach them, it is always good to have the information or several emergency contacts in the general area.
It is key to have all the children’s medical history, allergies and current medications available to read off hand to a doctor or the operator. It can be easy in an emergency to forget the specific name of a medication that the child previously reacted to or a minor surgery from several years ago. Though this information may seem far reaching in an emergency scenario, it could be important when connecting the dots of the event.
You would be amazed at how many people forget their own addresses in a state of emergency. As our brains go into fight or flight mode, we lose the ability to process “extra” information. The address of your house often falls into this “extra” category. Having the Emergency Family form in front of you can help jog your memory and focus you while you call 911.
In the Home Features section on the form, you can add any identifying features that are unique to your home. Perhaps you have a red mailbox, a large oak tree, lawn gnomes, . . . the list goes on and on. These identifying features help the emergency service personnel identify your home the first time around the block and can assist in avoiding additional confusion.
An Example If You Ever Call 911
Below is an example of an emergency 911 call. Click here to download a fill-in-the-blank template to leave by the phone.
Operator: 911, What is the location of your emergency?
Caller: Hi, the location of my emergency is (add address)
Operator: Can you tell me what is going on?
Caller: My name is (add your name) and I am caring for (add the name of the person you are caring for along with the age of the individual ~ Mary, she is 3 years old)
The Operator will then ask you to describe the situation. Provide a short description of the events that occurred and include the following information.
- What happened right before the incident?
- What you think may be occurring?
- How is the individual acting now?
- Does the individual have a medical history?
- Is the individual taking any new medication?
- Does the individual have any allergies?
- What care has already been provided? (For example: You have administered the Epipen)
The operator will walk you through the remaining pieces of the call. They will ask for clarification or more specific questions related to the situation. You may remain on the line until emergency services arrive at your location.
Remember that when emergencies arise, being prepared is the best way to facilitate a positive outcome. Take a deep breath, take the reins and help the individual get the medical assistance they need. To be even more prepared take an in-person, group or private CPR class. Sign up today!
About The Author
Kaitlin McCarthy is a Registered Nurse and EMT. She started at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as a Newborn Care Specialist and then decided to go back to nursing school. Kaitlin is also the owner of Boston CPR Partners and specializes in instructing new parents, caregivers and medical personnel. She has worked in both the pre-hospital and clinical settings, most recently in the ER. Her passions lie in Emergency Medicine, Labor and Delivery and Newborn care.