What If I Have To Call An Ambulance?

Having to call an ambulance can be very intimidating for some people. Some worry that they will feel sicker than they are and others worry about the cost.

Some just aren’t sure what to do.

I can remember when I was younger, my mom would always say: Be sure to change your underwear regularly, just in case you have to go by ambulance! I doubt very much that yours will be checked, unless there is something that has to be seen beneath your underwear. Good, we got that one covered!

It’s always good to have a plan and there may come a time when you will have to go by ambulance to the hospital.

Here is a list of preparedness, that can help you as well as the ambulance personnel, and into the hospital.

Hang your lists on your refrigerator, carry in your purse or put in an envelope on the table, some place that it will be easy for the ambulance personnel to find, especially if you can’t tell them where the list is.

  • What are your symptoms? Where do you hurt, when did it start? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, please describe your pain. Have you had this before? What makes it worse? What makes it better?
  • Are you having trouble breathing? Chest pains? Does the pain radiate? Have you used your inhaler? When did you last use your nebulizer? Questions will be asked according to your symptoms. With any of these, you will likely be put on a chest monitor, so that they can see and also show the doctor your EKG, heart rhythms. If you have a hairy chest, they may have to shave some of the hair off, so that the sticky tape with the leads on the monitor will stay on.
  • What time did you eat last? Drink last?
  • Do you smoke? Do you take drugs (not medication)? This question is only to give you proper care. Have you taken anything else that you shouldn’t have?
  • Make a list of all of your medications, including over the counter medications, herbs, etc. that you are taking. Be sure to include the dosage and how often you take this medication. If you see different doctors, it can be helpful to know which doctor prescribed your medication as well. It’s also helpful to have your medications handy, so they can be taken to the hospital with you.
  • They will ask if you are on oxygen, how many liters and at night or 24/7. You will probably be asked if you are on c-pap or bi-pap as well.
  • If you are having difficulty breathing, they will likely raise the head of your cot so that your head is elevated.
  • Make a list of your allergies, including what you are allergic to and what kind of reaction you have. Also note if you have an EpiPen and where it is.
  • You will be asked about your history, what type of surgeries that you have had, to what illness or diseases that you have or have had. That can include cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, whatever you have or have had.
  • You will also be asked about your family history. What medical illnesses have your parents, siblings and children had. Are they living or deceased?
  • Are you up to date on your shots and when did you have them? Have you had the flu shot? Tetanus? Pneumonia? Hepatitis? Shingles?
  • Do you have a DNR? If you have one in place, give a copy to the ambulance personnel. You will need another copy for the hospital, if they don’t have one on file or if you aren’t sure.
  • Your blood pressure will be taken every 5 - 15 minutes depending on how you are doing. Your temp will be taken. You will possibly be put on oxygen. It’s likely that you will be given an IV. Each of these things is very important, as needed for your care.
  • If you were in an accident, you will likely be put on a backboard as well, to keep your spine straight.

Depending on the length of the time to the hospital, the paramedics or EMT’s will likely repeat blood pressure, ask questions, etc. This is all to take better care of you, but also so that the information can be relayed to the hospital before you get there. That way they will be ready for you.

If you are a distance from the hospital and you are severe, it’s possible that you might be transported by helicopter or even a fixed wing plane. The ground ambulance will usually be the one to care for you first.

Protocols may vary depending on where you live.

It’s important to be aware that the way things are done here in South Dakota, might be a bit different than it is there. I’m confident that the paperwork and many of the questions will be the same.

It’s wonderful to know that the ambulance is there for us if we are in need, yet we can always hope that we are very prepared and we won’t need it.


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