When Should You Call 911?
If you have ever taken a CPR class then you know the answer to this question. You call 911, depending on the age of your patient, very quickly after determining the patient is unresponsive. However, life is rarely this simple. Most of the time, thank god, you are not going to be calling 911 because someone has stopped breathing or has no pulse. You will probably be calling for something much less clearly an emergency. In almost every class I teach now someone tells me about a time they thought about calling 911 but didn’t. I’ll try and answer this question the simplest way I can.
When I first started teaching CPR I took some things for granted because of my training and the level of training of the audience I was speaking to. In the beginning I only ever taught CPR to Nurses, Doctors, and Paramedics who knew when to call for help. Heck, they usually were the help. So I wasn’t really prepared for the “when should I call 911?” question when I was asked by non-healthcare workers. I had to come up with an answer that fit every scenario. Here it is: If you think about calling 911, then call. If you think you might look silly calling 911—then call. If you think someone else might have called already—call 911 yourself. Your threshold for calling 911 should be so low that just reading this blog should make you wanna call 911. Don’t be worried about feeling silly or getting in trouble. Get involved.
The next time you think about calling 911 I hope you remember this short blog and the simple answer to “when should I call 911?” Always remember, there is no harm that can come from calling 911 if you have legitimate concern for someone’s safety. However, think of all the pain and suffering that might result from you deciding that someone else will call or that you don’t want to get involved. If you think you should call 911, THEN CALL 911.