Tips Regarding Calling 911 for Emergencies During the COVID-19 Outbreak

It is important to know what to do in a medical emergency—it can save a life. One of the first questions to ask is whether the situation you are dealing with is truly an emergency that requires a visit to the emergency department. Here are some warning signs of a medical emergency:

  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Severe or extreme difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath  
  • Change in behavior or confusion
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure in the chest  
  • Choking
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Feeling of committing suicide or harming another person
  • Head or spine injury
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Sudden injury due to a motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or a large wound
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
  • Swallowing a poisonous substance
  • Childbirth complications or imminent delivery
  • Slurred speech, new or worsening as observed by a second party 
  • Acting confused, new or worsening as observed by a second party 
  • Loss of consciousness or fainting as observed by a second party 
  • Difficult waking up by a second party 

Only call 911 if you believe you are experiencing a true emergency.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 are urged to call their healthcare provider or urgent care center to get scheduled for a test. Individuals experiencing symptoms must also self-isolate and have as little contact with others as possible.

If you do believe you may have COVID-19 and need to call 911:

  • Immediately tell the dispatcher that you or someone in your home may have the virus.
  • Be honest and forthcoming when answering questions. It’s important to answer honestly so the first responders know how best to help you and how best to keep themselves safe.
  • Meet the responders outside your home if possible. This helps minimize the potential of exposing the first responders.

There are several ways for citizens to do help during this challenging time including the donation of blood, adhering to the stay-at-home recommendations and donations of masks or other personal protection equipment. If you’re able to assist, contact your ambulance service to see if and what they may need.

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention has a number of resources:

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