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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Dealing With Emergencies
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Review this topic before you need it. Then, when you are faced with an emergency or injury, you will know what to do. Your confidence in dealing with both major and minor emergencies will be reassuring to an injured person.
Some of the medical emergencies you may find helpful to review are:
Steps to take when an emergency occurs:
If the person is unconscious or does not respond to your voice or touch, be ready to start CPR. (See the CPR section of this topic.)
Call 911 or other emergency services, such as the local fire department, sheriff, or hospital, if you need help.
If you are needed in an emergency, give what help you can. Most states have a Good Samaritan law to protect people who help in an emergency.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into his or her mouth. It is used in emergencies when someone's heart stops beating, or when he or she is not breathing normally (may be gasping for breath) or is not breathing at all.
CPR works to move blood to the person's brain to help prevent brain damage. CPR can help keep someone alive until a health professional arrives.
The steps of CPR are C-A-B:
The CPR Basics has the basic steps for CPR. Use it for quick information on hand placement for chest compression, compression rates, compression depth, and ratio of compressions to rescue breaths.
The American Heart Association recommends taking a class on how to give CPR and then use the steps below as a reference.
Tap or gently shake the person and shout, "Are you okay?" But do not shake someone who might have a neck or back injury. That could make the injury worse.
If the person does not respond, follow these steps.
Adults and older children who have reached puberty
Babies and young children until the age of puberty
For an adult or an older child who has reached puberty
Positioning your arms and body for doing chest compressions:
For a child 1 year of age to puberty
For a baby younger than 1 year
If you are not trained in CPR, it's okay to only give chest compressions. Studies have shown that CPR can work well with chest compressions alone.
Rescue breathing is more important to do for children and babies than adults.
If you are trained in CPR:
There may be a pocket mask at a nearby first aid station or in a first aid kit. You can use the mask to give rescue breaths, but don't delay starting CPR to find one.
To give rescue breaths:
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are machines that are programmed to safely deliver an electrical shock to a person who has collapsed from a heart problem. Each AED has instructions for that machine.
AEDs are in many public places. Before you use an AED, follow all the steps for CPR. To use an AED, place it next to the person who has collapsed and turn it on. The AED has a computer inside that will tell you what to do next.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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