FIRST-PERSON: What to do in an emergency

by Tamara Quintana, posted Monday, June 19, 2006 (14 years ago)

DALLAS (BP)--Early one morning I got a call from one of my co-workers who had witnessed an accident on the highway. She could see the man on the ground but didn't know what to do. She was afraid to render aid.

I told my co-worker if she was afraid, she should stay in her car. She called out to the man and told him she would call 911 and stay there with him until help arrived. She was able to get immediate help and give the accident victim some comfort while keeping a safe distance.

The first rule in any emergency is to ensure your own safety. Emergency situations are dangerous for those who are trained in emergencies and even more so for those who are not.

-- Be prepared

Being prepared for an emergency can make the difference between a positive outcome and a disastrous one. With a little advance planning, most of us can handle almost any situation calmly, quickly and effectively.

Advance planning for an emergency means taking a CPR and first aid course and following up with periodic refresher courses. In a basic course, you should learn the proper techniques for treating burns, wrapping sprains, applying splints and performing the Heimlich maneuver.

You should also keep a well-stocked first-aid kit at home, at work and in your car. With the right knowledge and basic materials, you can be much more effective in an emergency.

-- Get help

Calling 911 is often the most important thing you can do in an emergency. If you’re alone with a victim, first do what you can to quickly stabilize the situation, then call 911. If there are others around, tell someone else to call. Be specific. “Joe, call 911!” A blanket statement directed to a crowd may not spur anyone to action.

One situation that always requires immediate medical attention is difficulty breathing. You can’t perform CPR on someone whose airways are blocked, and the brain cannot survive more than a few minutes without oxygen. Always err on the side of safety where breathing is concerned.

In any situation, if you’re unsure, always call 911. We’ve all heard stories of people whose lives could have been saved but they didn’t get help because people didn’t want to make a scene.

An important part of handling an emergency is being able to evaluate the situation and take the appropriate action under stress. If we take preventive measures and prepare for the worst, we have a much better chance of making good decisions that will greatly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.


Tamara Quintana is a graduate of All Saints Episcopal Hospital School of Vocational Nursing and the director of the employee wellness program for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Download Story