When to Call 911 and When to Drive to the Nearest ER

Fact Checked

call-911When emergencies happen, people can get easily rattled. Making decisions can somewhat be difficult. In some cases, it’s easy to decide whether or not to call emergency medical services. However, there are situations where it is difficult to decide whether to wait for help to arrive or to drive to the nearest emergency department.

In any emergency situation, it is important to stay calm. If you are unsure whether or not the situation requires immediate care, you have several options to properly deal with the situation:

  • Handle the situation at home.

Many injuries and illnesses can actually be treated at home. A well-stocked first aid kit and knowledge on how to use them can help you deal with the emergency. Some injuries that may be handled at home include scrapes, bruises, cuts, colds, coughs, and certain rashes.

  • Contact your healthcare provider or family doctor.

If you assess the situation to be more serious and you cannot handle it, call your family doctor immediately. Usually, you can contact your doctor directly or through his office. Your doctor can help you decide on what to do.

  • Drive to the nearest emergency room

The emergency department of a healthcare facility is capable of handling a wide range of health conditions, such as head traumas, severe bleeding, breathing difficulties, prolonged seizures, etc. If the patient suffers from life-threatening injuries and if the emergency room is just few blocks away, you can bring the patient to emergency department.

Here are several health conditions and emergencies that may require visit to the emergency room:

  • Difficulty of breathing or shortness of breath
  • Change in the mental state of an individual, such as suddenly becoming difficult to rouse, confused, disoriented, or unusually sleepy
  • Wounds or cuts that does not stop bleeding
  • Stiff neck that is accompanied by fever
  • Sudden, rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling pressure in the chest
  • Ingestion of poison or too much medications
  • Major head trauma or injury to the neck
  • Dial 911 or your local emergency phone number

There are emergencies where the patient requires urgent medical attention of a medical professional. In these cases, you have to call 911 and request for immediate medical assistance. Usually, the call dispatcher can guide you on how to help the patient while waiting for the ambulance.

In minor injuries or illnesses, calling 911 or driving to the ER is not recommended. The care that will be provided to you can be served to people who need it the most. As much as possible, handle minor issues at home or call your doctor for specific instructions.

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  • All canadianfirstaid.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.