“Preparedness is the calm before, during and after the storm.” Anonymous
Preparedness to deal with the cyclone Fani saved many lives in Orrisa. The Government machinery acted with alacrity. They evacuated around a million people. UN agency took note of India’s Met department’s sharp accuracy of early warning. They appreciated India’s Zero Casualty approach.
Disaster Management or Emergency Management in India is off late picking up with the Global standards. Disaster may strike seldom but if not prepared it can play havoc.
This is why we have a fire safety system installed in every building. In case of an emergency, this system is the first point of rescue. Till the time fire brigade team arrives, installed fire safety help us contain the fire. (Check whether your fire safety system is working to save you?)
The Govt and societies are waking up to the reality of emergency management but what is our personal preparedness to manage our medical emergency? How quickly you can respond to a medical emergency situation in your family? Are you equipped to deal with any such emergency situations?
The answer is perhaps No.
Let’s get prepared to deal with personal medical emergency management.
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following are warning signs of a medical emergency:
- Bleeding that will not stop
- Breathing problems(difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
- Change in mental status(such as unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing)
- Chest pain
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- A feeling of committing suicide or murder
- Head or spine injury
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Sudden injury due to a motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or large wound, or other injuries
- Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
- Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
- Swallowing a poisonous substance
- Severe abdominal pain or pressure
“Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy.” Max Mayfield, meteorologist, and director of the National Hurricane Center
Preparation before an Emergency:
This is the most important stage of any emergency management.
- Keep your doctor’s phone number handy and visible to everyone in the family
- Decide the nearby hospital to move the patient in case of an emergency. Keep the number handy.
- If not familiar with the route to the hospital get familiar in advance.
- Know the domestic help (friends / relatives / neighbour) to call in case of an emergency
- Keep all the emergency numbers handy
- Know the people around you knowing CPR
- Keep AED kit in the society where you live and train select people how to operate the kit.
- Keep a sheet of Emergency Management with all important contact numbers prominently displayed
- Get yourself trained in first responder/emergency management system.
After keeping the emergency numbers handy the next important thing you can do to prepare for an emergency is to get yourself trained to manage an emergency.
In Mumbai, MCGM conducts First responder Training Programme.
The following video shows CPR and AED in real life situation.
At the Time of the Emergency at Home:
In all the medical emergency cases reaching for professional medical help is the ultimate objective.
- Call for an emergency help friends / relatives / neighbour. They will help you to move the patient to the hospital and manage the situation until the patient avails medical help.
- Call the medical emergency number like 112, 108, (102 for Ambulance), 1916 in Mumbai.
- If you know the CPR, and the symptoms indicate the heart problem, start giving CPR with proper technique
- If you do not know CPR, call the person knowing CPR
- If you or the building has AED kit, call for it and operate as per the instruction
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At the Time of the Emergency on the Road:
- Keep the First Aid kit in the vehicle
- Seek help from people around
- Call the emergency helpline number
- Call your health or car insurance company for help
- Apply the necessary first aid necessary if you are trained
Save Life Foundation conducts a various course for the first responder in case of a road emergency.
Emergency Numbers to Keep Handy:
- Close family, friend, neighbour to call during an emergency.
- Emergency helpline
- Family doctor
- Alternate doctor
- Doctor residing nearby
- Hospitals nearby
The most important is to call the emergency number but then who you call for help is very critical.
You need to identify a person with some qualities to handle an emergency situation. He not only needs to remain present but shall remain calm, must be resourceful to mobilise the resources, must be able to talk with the doctor about the treatment, and if the situation demands to shift the patient to a better hospital.
Following is the real-life case study which tells us what kind of qualities a person we are calling for the emergency help should have.
In a recent case, a 75-year-old relative becomes unconscious at home around 5 in the evening. His wife who was alone at home. She called their nephew residing at a 5 minutes distance.
The nephew came with an ambulance and 3 people for help to move the patient from the first floor to the ambulance.
They moved the patient to a nearby nursing home. It was Sunday and the only resident doctor was available in the nursing home. They did initial testing and informed the relatives that the rest of the treatment will be done on the next day when the specialist doctor will be available.
The patient as not conscious. The nephew insisted that the treatment can’t wait and must start immediately. After a while when he makes out that things are not moving, he called his acquaintance and found the contact to reach a renowned local doctor. He inquired with the doctor the possibility of moving the patient to a bigger hospital.
Once confirmed the bed in the bigger hospital, he called the ambulance, took the discharge (people familiar with how small nursing home works, taking a discharge on Sunday was an achievement) of the patient. By 11 at night he moved the patient to an ICU of a bigger hospital where the treatments started immediately.
If you want to become a person described above, read Linchpin – By Seth Godin
The point to narrate this real-life story is to make you understand the quality of person you need in case of an emergency. The person needs to be resourceful and decisive.
This planning you can do in advance because in the emergency situation our mind is not capable to think strategically and from all the angles.
“There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you are prepared for the worst.” Stephen King, author
We mostly ignore emergency management but this could be a life-saving exercise and investment when done with foresightedness.
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