Medical Emergency: Recognizing Signs and Symptoms | Sparsh Hospital

Published in : Critical Care And Emergency Medicine | July 4, 2024 |

Medical Emergency: Recognizing Signs and Symptoms

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Medical emergencies can strike without warning, and every second can make a big difference when it comes to saving lives. Recognising emergencies and knowing how to respond quickly and effectively is imperative.

In this article, let us discuss the steps you can take to identify and address medical emergencies, ensuring that you’re prepared to act fast and potentially save a life.

Recognise the Warning Signs

The first and most crucial step in responding to a medical emergency is recognising the medical emergency signs. The following are some common indicators of a severe health issue:

  • Severe Pain or Discomfort: If someone is experiencing intense, debilitating pain, it could be a sign of a life-threatening condition. For instance, pain in the chest, often described as pressure or squeezing, can be a sign of a heart attack. The pain may also radiate to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach..
  • Difficulty Breathing: If you experience rapid breathing or shortness of breath, you may have a respiratory problem, such as an asthma attack or a lung condition.
  • Changes in Consciousness: Sudden confusion, dizziness, or loss of consciousness can indicate a neurological issue, like a stroke or a head injury.
  • Severe Bleeding: Uncontrolled bleeding, especially from a major artery or organ, can be a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
  • Sudden, Severe Headache: A sudden, severe, unexplained headache can indicate a stroke, brain haemorrhage, or other neurological events.

Ways to Prepare for an Emergency

If you are prepared for a medical emergency, you can make a significant difference in the outcome. Some steps you can take to ensure you’re ready to respond effectively:

  • Learn Basic First Aid and CPR Techniques: Knowing how to perform elementary first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can differentiate life and death in emergencies. It is advisable to trust the experts (doctors or healthcare workers) for acquiring this skill.
  • Assemble a Well-stocked First Aid Kit: Keep a well-equipped first-aid kit in your home, car, and any other place it might be needed. Include essential items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and necessary medications.
  • Please Familiarise Yourself with Emergency Contacts and Procedures: Know the emergency phone numbers for your area (e.g., 108 in India) and keep them readily available. Also, you need to know the nearest hospital or medical facility and the best routes to get there.
  • Consider Medical Alert Devices: A medical alert device eg, can be invaluable in an emergency if you or a loved one have a pre-existing medical condition. These devices can automatically notify emergency services and provide critical medical information.
  • Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date on the latest first aid and emergency response guidelines, which may change over time. Review your emergency preparedness plan regularly and make any necessary updates.

What to Do in an Emergency

When faced with a medical emergency, acting quickly and decisively is crucial. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to respond if someone encounters a medical emergency situation:

  • Assess the Situation: Quickly evaluate the severity of the problem and determine if the person is conscious, breathing, and responsive.
  • Call for Help: If the situation is life-threatening, immediately call the emergency number and request immediate medical assistance.
  • Provide Basic First Aid: If you have the necessary knowledge and skills, begin administering first aid, putting pressure to stop bleeding, giving CPR, or positioning the person in a recovery position.
  • Monitor the Person’s Condition: Continuously monitor the person’s breathing, pulse, and level of consciousness, and be prepared to provide updates to emergency responders.
  • Prepare for Transport: If you can safely move the person, prepare to transport them to the nearest hospital or medical facility. Gather any necessary personal items and medical information to provide to the medical team.

When to Call 108

Knowing when to call the emergency number 108 can be crucial to saving a life, says Dr. Srinath, Group Head – Emergency Medicine, at SPARSH Hospital.

Some clear-cut situations when one should immediately contact emergency services are:

  • Severe, Uncontrolled Bleeding: If someone is experiencing heavy, uncontrolled bleeding that you cannot stop, call 108 immediately.
  • Difficulty Breathing or Choking: If the person is having trouble breathing, is gasping for air, or is choking, call 108 right away.
  • Suspected Heart Attack or Stroke: If you suspect someone is undergoing a heart attack or stroke with symptoms like chest pain, numbness, or sudden confusion, call 108 without delay.
  • Severe Head Injury: If someone has sustained a severe head injury, such as from a fall or accident, call 108 immediately.
  • Seizures or Sudden Loss of Consciousness: If a person experiences a seizure or suddenly loses consciousness, call 108 right away.

Remember, it’s better to be cautious about medical emergencies. If you’re unsure whether a situation requires emergency assistance, it’s always best to call 108 and let the trained professionals assess the situation.

Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Familiarise yourself with the emergency symptoms, and be prepared to act quickly.

In conclusion, recognising and responding to medical emergencies can genuinely make the difference between life and death. By staying vigilant, preparing in advance, and knowing when to call for help, you can be an undesignated emergency response team member and potentially save a life. Remember, every second counts, so act fast and stay informed.


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Dr. Srinath

Senior Consultant & Group Head - Emergency Medicine

4 Mins Read


Categories: Critical Care And Emergency Medicine


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