Yesterday I heard a comment from someone about severe allergic reactions, the individual made a statement “Drive them to hospital as fast as you can!”. When I heard this, every fibre of my being screamed “NO PLEASE DON’T DO THAT, CALL 911!!”. I recall working a day shift on the nursing team at Royal Columbian when a car came careening into the emergency entrance. A man jumped out of the drivers seat and ran into the emergency entrance. He yelled “Someone help my daughter please!!”.
Opening the passenger side door of the car we found a young girl, 16 years of age, completely blue. Her swollen face, neck and rash suggested a severe allergic reaction. While we attended to the patient I overheard the father explain that she was severely allergic to Kiwi fruit and accidentally ingested some in a fruit salad at a friends birthday party. When asked “Why didn’t you call 911?”, he responded “I thought I could get her here faster but I ran into heavy traffic”.
Unfortunately she had been too long without oxygen, she didn’t make it. If only the dad had called 911 instead. I’ve seen this story repeat itself over and over again with seriously ill patients showing up in a car at the ER entrance. It’s so tragic because the outcome is often a sad one.
a) Yes paramedics are very busy and may take a while to get to you, but Fire Departments are well trained and as first responders they are able to maintain the patient until paramedics arrive.
b) If you get stuck in traffic, you’re in trouble because no one can find you or get to you. The patient is delayed receiving essential life saving emergency services.
c) When you call 911 the paramedics are NOT a fancy taxi with lights that can get the patient to hospital fast. Those days are long gone, today when the ambulance arrives you are bringing the emergency department TO YOU!
d) If you have CPR or First Aid training you can help the person which is just not possible in a car, especially if you’re the driver. Even if you don’t have first aid training, don’t worry because the BC Ambulance Dispatch will help and tell you exactly what you need to do to help your loved one until Emergency Services arrive. You can’t do that driving them in your car.
This applies to all potentially serious emergencies such as chest pain, poisoning, injury, loss of consciousness just to name a few. Speaking of allergies specifically, if someone you care about has a severe allergy, please talk to your physician about getting them a life saving Epi-Pen. This can restore breathing biding you time until paramedics arrive!
If you have any serious emergency, or even if you’re not 100% certain it’s a serious emergency, Call 911. Emergency Services will never fault you for calling 911 and then discovering that it’s not as serious as you thought. Looking into a Dad’s face and telling him that his daughter didn’t make it is bad enough but knowing it could have been avoided is just so tragic! Please call 911!!