What is an Emergency?

How do you decide when a medical condition rises to the level of a medical "emergency?"

If you or someone you are with experiences signs of a heart attack or stroke, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive and on the way to the hospital. If you cannot call 9-1-1, get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

Click here to learn more about "Early Heart Attack Care" and the signs and symtoms of a heart attack or stroke, because EVERY SECOND COUNTS.

is it an emergencyThe American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offers a list of warning signs that indicate a medical emergency.

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unusual abdominal pain

The ACEP recommends seeking immediate medical attention for children exhibiting any of the symptoms above, as well as any significant change in behavior, such as irritability, decreased alertness, or seizures; difficulty eating; fever accompanied by a change in behavior; inability to stand up or unsteady walking; and skin or lips that appear blue, purple or gray.