About Emergencies

Seconds Save Lives in Medical Emergencies

The nation’s emergency physicians are partnering with MedicAlert Foundation to launch a campaign called "Seconds Save Lives" to educate the public about what to do in an emergency.

"People witnessing a medical emergency should be prepared to take action, which can mean anything from calling 911 to performing CPR," said Dr. Angela Gardner of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  "The most important, and yet sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to keep your composure.  You will be better able to provide critical information to emergency responders and physicians, whether for yourself or someone else."

ACEP and MedicAlert are distributing 75,000 copies of the brochure "Seconds Save Lives" to emergency departments across the country and making it available for free.

The brochure includes safety tips as well as signs and symptoms of medical emergencies for adults and children. It makes recommendations on when to call for help (EMS or 911) and what actions to take while waiting for help to arrive. The brochure also offers advice on the importance of emergency medical information and identification services, when to call for help, what to say to emergency responders, and what to do while waiting for help to arrive.

Action can mean applying direct pressure on a wound, performing CPR, or splinting an injury. It may also mean keeping the person calm and telling emergency responders what you know of the person’s accident, illness or medical history. Never perform a medical procedure if you’re unsure about how to do it.

  • Do not move anyone involved in a car accident, injured by a serious fall, or found unconscious unless he or she is in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink.
  • If the person is bleeding, apply a clean cloth or sterile bandage. If possible, elevate the injury and apply direct pressure on the wound.
  • If the person is not breathing or does not have a pulse, begin rescue breathing or CPR. If you do not know how to, or have concerns about performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the American Heart Association has endorsed "hands-only" CPR. This means "pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest with minimal interruptions," at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. The pop song "Stayin’ Alive" by the Bee Gees is approximately 100 beats per minute, which is a helpful way to remember how fast to perform compressions. Continue chest compressions until the ambulance arrives. For more information, visit http://handsonlycpr.org/.

"Nobody plans an emergency, but there are steps you can take to be prepared when emergencies happen," said Dr. Gardner.  "Programming I.C.E. (in case of emergency) contact information into your cell phone is helpful, as is having your family’s medical information organized and available to take with you to the emergency department.  Everyone is only one step away from a medical emergency, and in an emergency, seconds can save lives."

To download a free copy of the brochure, Seconds Save Lives, click here.  ACEP and MedicAlert Foundation are partnering to promote EmergencyCareForYou.org and to educate the public about medical emergencies.

MedicAlert Foundation pioneered the first medical identification and emergency medical information service in 1956 to provide people with a simple but effective method for communicating their medical conditions. Since the organization’s founding, MedicAlert Foundation has provided services and products that help to protect and save lives for its 4 million members worldwide. For more than 50 years, the nonprofit foundation has relayed vital medical information on behalf of its members to emergency responders so they receive faster and safer treatment. MedicAlert IDs alert emergency personnel to a member’s primary health conditions. In addition to its 24-­hour emergency response service, MedicAlert Foundation also provides family and caregiver notification so that members can be reunited with their loved ones. For more information, visit www.medicalert.org.

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.


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