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Medical Emergencies

Medical Emergencies can happen to anyone at any time.

Take a CPR and First Aid class, 

and keep your certification current.

Get a First Aid Kit for you home and your car. 

Your place of employment and schools should have them. 

Find out where they are, and what the plan is in an emergency. 

If someone in the family has a medical condition, 

know what can happen and what to do. 

Your family doctor can help you with this.

(The following information is to give you the confidence

to recognize and handle a medical emergency as a layman.

These are guidelines, and not any type of certification.)

Sudden Illnesses

Allergic Reactions

Diabetic Emergencies





When someone becomes "suddenly" ill, there will be a little bit of time 

for you to notice a change in the person's appearance, 

or the person may say something is wrong.

Some of the most common signals are listed here.

♦ Changes in breathing (such as breathing faster or slower, having difficulty breathing)

♦ Changes in consciousness 

(such as feeling dizzy or lightheaded, passing out or becoming unconscious)

♦ Changes in skin color (such as pale or flushed)

♦ Changes in speech (such as difficulty speaking or slurred speech)

♦ Changes in vision (blurred or loss of vision)

♦ Diarrhea

♦ Nausea or Vomiting

♦ Numbness or weakness

♦ Paralysis or the inability to move

♦ Persistent pain or pressure

♦ Sudden sweating

♦ Seizures

♦ Severe headache

♦ If you notice any of these signals, ask the person what is wrong.

Most of us will deny anything is wrong. Keep asking questions.

Tell the person what you are noticing; 

for example, you might tell him his skin color is looking pale, 

or it looks as if he is having difficulty breathing.

♦ Ask questions. 

Find out if the person has a medical condition, or if he is taking any medications. 

Any information you learn becomes a "base line" for any further changes.

♦ If the person's condition worsens, or he becomes unconscious,

Call 9-1-1. 

Be prepared to give CPR/First Aid until help arrives.

♦ When help arrives, you will want to give a report of the events that lead to you calling for help. 

The firemen/paramedics or police officers will get your information, but not always right away. 

Their first priority is the patient/victim. 

The information you have is important, so be patient and wait to give your report.

While you are Waiting for Help

♦ The first rule of giving aid is Do No Further Harm

If you have not taken a CPR/First Aid class, or what is needed 

is beyond your scope of knowledge, do no further harm.

♦ Keep talking to the person and gather any information you can about what the problem may be. Find out if the person is on medications, for what condition and when he last took them, 

what and when he last ate, any family members he might want contacted.

♦ Monitor the person's breathing, level of consciousness, skin color, etc.

♦ Help the person rest in the most comfortable position possible, while not moving him too much.

♦ Keep the person from becoming too cold or overheated.

♦ Reassure the person that help is on the way.

Allergic Reactions

♦ People can have allergies to almost anything. 

Although most reactions are mild (such as hay fever), some are a matter of life and death. 

If you know you (or a family member or friend) have a severe allergy to something, 

get a medic alert tag and wear it. 

It could save your life!

♦ The first time you are exposed to something, your body builds up antibodies. 

The second time you are exposed, the body can release histamines to attack the substance. 

Blood vessels dilate, your blood pressure lowers, which causes the blood vessels to leak fluid. 

This leads to hives and swelling and itching. 

A severe reaction can also affect the lungs, causing the airways to constrict, 

making breathing difficult. 

If the throat swells to close the airway, the person will become unconscious.

♦ Most reactions happen within a few minutes, and severe reactions (anaphylactic shock) 

can kill someone very quickly.

Common allergies include:


Dairy Products

Egg Whites

Fish and Shellfish

Nuts, commonly peanuts

Sesame Seeds

Wasps and Bees


Penicillin and other "cillin"s

Muscle Relaxants

♦ A shot of Adrenaline (epinephrine) causes the systems to reverse 

what has happened to them but must be administered at onset of a severe reaction.

Diabetic Emergencies

♦ There are two types of diabetic emergencies, diabetic coma and insulin shock. 

You will not necessarily know what is happening, and it does not change what you do.

♦ If a person's blood sugar is low, giving sugar will help. 

If his sugar is too high, giving sugar will not cause further harm.

♦ If the person is conscious, he may start feeling weak (have him sit down) 

and ask for something with sugar. 

If possible, give him sugar in liquid form to avoid possible choking.

♦ Most fruit juices or sodas have enough sugar to help. 

You can also give table sugar mixed in a glass of water.

♦ People who know they are diabetic will usually have supplies with them 

and can tell you how you can help.

♦ If you have nothing with sugar handy, Call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Stay with the person and watch for changes, including unconsciousness. 

Send someone else to find sugar.

♦ Have the person sit in a comfortable position until he feels better 

(which should be within 5 minutes).

If he continues to feel weak, call 9-1-1. 

If he is about to lose consciousness, get him on the floor and be prepared to do CPR.


Fainting occurs when someone suddenly loses consciousness and then gains consciousness back.

Fainting is usually not serious. 

However, do not take any chances.

Call 9-1-1. 

If the person fell as he fainted, he could have injured himself.

If the person does not regain consciousness momentarily, 

be prepared to give Rescue Breathing or CPR.

If the person is conscious, have him lie down on his back with his feet raised 8 to 12 inches.

Loosen any restrictive clothing, especially around the neck.

Do not give him anything to eat or drink.


♦ A poison is considered to be anything that can cause injury, illness or death 

to a person when introduced to the body.

♦ The four methods a poison can affect the body are Absorption, Ingestion, Inhalation and Injection.

♦ If you think someone has been poisoned, you can call the Poison Control Center.

(1 800 222 1222)

♦ If the person is unconscious, has a change in his level of consciousness, 

or there are other life-threatening conditions,

Call 9-1-1 immediately.


♦ Seizures can be scary for the people watching, not to mention the one having the seizure, 

especially if it is the first he has experienced.

♦ Do not try to restrain the person. 

Let the seizure take its course.

♦ Call 9-1-1 regardless of whether a person has a history of seizures or not.

♦ The main response you have to someone having a seizure is the person's safety. 

Move any items the person may hit with his arms or legs. 

Protect the persons head by putting something soft 

(like a folded piece of clothing or a pillow) under it.

♦ Do not attempt to put anything in the person's mouth. 

The person will not swallow his tongue.

♦ Once the seizure is over, the person will be tired. 

He may be disoriented or drowsy. 

If he is nonresponsive, watch for him becoming unconscious.

♦ Reassure the person that help is on the way.

♦ Let the person rest on the floor until help arrives. 

Do not give him anything to eat or drink.


♦ A stroke is a blockage of blood flow to a part of the brain. 

It is also known as a "brain attack". 

If the flow of blood is not restored, the brain can be permanently damaged. 

A stoke can be caused by a blood clot or a ruptured artery bleeding into the brain.

♦ When a person has a stroke, it usually affects one side of the body. 

The person will notice numbness or weakness usually in the face, arm or leg. 

Vision may become blurred, and the person may experience dizziness 

or a sudden severe headache. 

He may also become confused.

F*A*S*T is an acronym that can help you recognize the signs of a stroke.

F - Face

Ask the person to smile. 

If the smile is "lopsided" this will show there is a weakness in one side of the face.

A - Arm

Ask the person to raise both arms as high as possible. 

If he raises one higher than the other, note if the same side of the body 

as the face is showing weakness.

S - Speech

Ask the person to say a simple sentence (such as 'my name is ..., and my favorite color is ...').

Notice if the words are slurred or not understandable.

T - Time

If the person shows any of the above signs, Call 9-1-1, and note the time when the signs started.

♦ Reassure the person that help is on the way.

Try to keep the person as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

♦ If the stroke is massive, the person could become unconscious, 

so, monitor his breathing and be prepared to give rescue breathing or CPR.

For Cold Related Issues -

See Winter Storms, under which are
Frostbite and Hypothermia 

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