EMERGENCY TELEPHONE CALLS Life-Threatening Emergencies Dial 911 (Emergency Medical Services). In larger cities, this call will dispatch an emergency vehicle staffed by a rescue squad and based at the nearest fire department. In smaller towns and counties, the operator will connect you with an emergency ambulance service. The direct number for this service is usually found on the first page of your telephone directory. In areas that use 911, children should be taught to dial this number for crises. Increasingly, 911 is being linked to a computer system ("enhanced 911") that can determine the address of the incoming call even if the caller can't speak. Non-Life-Threatening Emergencies Call Your Child's Physician. If you don't have a physician, call the near- est emergency room. Always call in first, rather than simply going to an emergency room. Your physician may provide you with critical first aid instructions by phone (e.g., for burns, animal bites, or fractures). Your physician also can help you decide whether a rescue squad should be sent out or if it is safe for you to drive in. In addition, your physician can also tell you if it's safe to be seen in the office or where to take your child for the best emergency care. Poisoning If you know the phone number of the nearest Poison Center, call them now. If not, call the National Poison Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222. They will automatically connect you with your local Poison Center. How to Cut Through Red Tape When you call in, always state assertively, "This is an emergency." Do not let the answering service or receptionist put you on hold before talking with you. If you are put on hold, hang up and call back immediately. EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION Life-Threatening or Major Emergencies Call your rescue squad (911) or ambulance service. Definition of a Life-Threatening EmergencyChildren who may need resuscitation en route (for instance, those with severe breathing difficulty, severe choking, or not breathing) require a 911 call. Other potentially life-threatening emergencies are persistent loss of consciousness (coma), continuing seizure, or bleeding that can't be stopped by direct pressure. Children with major trauma or possible neck injury need splinting before transportation. The Staff of Emergency VehiclesEmergency vehicles are staffed by EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) or Paramedics. EMTs are trained in Basic Life Support: cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), splinting, bandaging, and so on. Paramedics are EMTs with additional training in Advanced Life Support: drawing blood, starting IVs, intubation, recording EKGs, and so on. EMTs receive 160 hours of training and Paramedics receive 1,200 hours. These pre-hospital care specialists are certified by their national associations. While providing emergency care, they are linked by two-way radio to an emergency room physician at their base hospital. Rescue Squads Versus Ambulance ServicesIn larger cities, rescue squads are often available through local fire departments. Usually rescue squads can respond more rapidly than ambulances, and their service is free. After the patient's condition has been stabilized, they will often call an ambulance company for transport to the hospital if it is warranted. In general the police do not transport sick people, so don't call them for medical emergencies. Non-Life-Threatening Emergencies Go to the nearest hospital offering emergency services. Try to call your child's physician first. Definition of Less Severe EmergenciesThese concern children who need to be seen as quickly as possible but whose condition is currently stable or at least does not pose a danger oSchmitt, Barton D. is the author of 'Your Child's Health The Parents' One-Stop Reference Guide To Symptoms, Emergencies, Common Illnesses, Behavior Problems, And Healthy Development', published 2005 under ISBN 9780553383690 and ISBN 0553383698.