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Region of Durham Paramedic Service Flash

Region of Durham Paramedic Service

Medical Emergencies

What is an Emergency?

It is often difficult to decide whether a medical problem is serious and potentially life-threatening in nature. 911 should be called immediately for out-of-hospital emergencies considered to be potentially life-threatening in nature and require emergent out-of-hospital medical care and transportation.

  • unconsciousness, absence of breathing or absence of pulse
  • experiencing pains or tightness in the chest
  • when you have severe and/or uncontrolled pain due to injury/illness
  • when you experience unusual difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
  • when a person is choking or having difficulty breathing
  • when you think you may have a neck or back injury or broken (fractured) a large bone.
  • when you have a wound with severe and/or uncontrolled bleeding
  • when you have sudden, severe headaches, vision problems, sudden weakness, numbness and/or tingling in the face, arm or leg, trouble speaking or dizziness.

Paramedics are prepared to provide you with emergent out-of-hospital medical care and customer service and transport you to the appropriate hospital emergency department.  Please do your part to help our service better provide clinical and customer service excellence to our community by reserving use of the 911 system for emergency situations only.

What to do in an Emergency

In the event of a serious medical or traumatic emergency, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Immediately dial 911 and request the appropriate emergency service: police, fire, or ambulance. The 911 dispatcher will connect you with the appropriate service and ensure that help is on the way. Always remember the following:

  • stay calm and give clear information
  • provide accurate directions to your location
  • do not move the patient, unless his or her life is being threatened
  • ensure someone stays with the patient
  • if additional help is available have someone meet the ambulance and direct the paramedics to the patient
  • turn on the outside lights at night so paramedics can see your location
  • if you live in an apartment, try to have someone meet the paramedics at the lobby door

What to Expect When you Call 911

Be prepared to answer the following questions related to the patient's condition:

  • which emergency service do you require - police, fire, ambulance
  • the telephone number you are calling from
  • the address or location and main intersection of where the patient is located
  • your name
  • the type of emergency
  • is the patient breathing
  • is the patient conscious

The Central Ambulance Communication Centre (CACC), operated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, will receive the call from the 911 operator. The call taker will process all requests for EMS service in a prompt and effective manner and will immediately determine whether the request for ambulance service is an emergency. The role of the Ambulance Communications Officer (ACO) is to collect and assess patient and geographic information in order to dispatch the appropriate EMS resources and, if necessary, summon appropriate allied service resources (police, fire, etc.) to your location.