We never plan for emergency situations. Most of the time, they happen fast, and they happen without any prior warning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for them. Here are a few tips on how to handle emergency situations, so when something does happen, you will be ready to render immediate assistance.

  1. Keep calm. This is probably the most important thing to remember. While an emergency situation is probably going to be moving at a rapid pace, getting anxious, upset or stressed will hinder your ability to help. Take a few deep breaths and, if necessary, give yourself permission to panic after the fact, but in the moment, stay focused on what needs to get done, and keep your wits about you so you can use your critical thinking abilities unclouded by fear, so you can make the best decisions for the situation at hand.
  2. Determine the nature of the emergency. There are some things, like heavy bleeding, that are obvious, but there are other things that might not have such dramatic signs. A few things to check for:
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive pain
  • Unconsciousness
  • Chest pains
  • Large bruise or other obvious injury
  • Head or neck trauma
  • Change in skin color or skin condition (cold, clammy, etc.)
  • Patient is showing signs of shock (pale, cold, clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse)
  • Sudden changes in behavior with no obvious cause
  1. Call 911. In most cases, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you suspect it is an emergency situation, but you aren’t completely sure, call in the professionals who can do a full assessment and determine the next steps of action. Delaying calling for help could lead to complications later.
  2. Start CPR. If someone has stopped breathing, don’t wait to start CPR. Even just doing chest compressions is better than nothing, and could keep the air flowing long enough for help to arrive. If you want to be fully prepared, take the time to take a CPR class, which will teach you everything you need to know to offer assistance in this type of emergency.
  3. Assess the area. If you feel like you or anyone else is in immediate danger, take steps to remove everyone from the situation. If that means leaving the room, leaving the building, or leaving the area, take whatever steps you feel are necessary to keep yourself and others safe from any further harm.

Additionally, you might want to consider taking a basic first aid course, which will teach you more warning signs, and what they mean, as well as give you the knowledge you need on what actions to take in a wide range of emergency situations. Sometimes, knowing what needs to be done is enough to help keep yourself and everyone calm and focused, instead of panicking because you don’t know what to do.

Emergencies are never something to look forward to, and they are never planned. But how you react, and the steps you take immediately after the emergency happens, can make all the difference.