Pocatello Emergency / 911 Tips

Know an Emergency

Remember, it's an emergency vehicle, not a taxi. Save emergency vehicles for emergencies.

When ambulances are called for non-emergency situations it can prevent them from being able to respond to a life threatening emergency. Think about whether or not you need an ambulance for your situation. Help make sure an advanced life support ambulance is available when you or someone else has a life-threatening emergency.

Make the right call. If it is potentially life threatening or you are in doubt, don't guess, call 911.

Call 911 for Emergencies Only

Do not call 911 for non-emergency transportation. Doing so can divert critical resources from situations which are a matter of life and death. If you just need transportation, please call a taxi or use public transportation.

Examples of Non-Emergency Situations

Minor illness or injury not requiring immediate help such as:

  • Broken fingers or toes
  • Chronic (ongoing) aches and pains
  • Emotional upsets
  • Flu-like symptoms/common colds
  • Minor cuts
  • Routine visits to medical offices, clinics, or hospitals

Can't I Just Drive the Patient Myself?

Calling 911 immediately when you think someone is badly hurt, sick, or in danger connects you with a whole emergency medical team—emergency dispatch operators, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, physicians, and nurses—who are specifically trained to handle these situations.

Trained & Equipped

Once on scene, our paramedics and emergency medical technicians are trained and equipped to begin assessing and administering emergency care. They are in communication with the hospital's emergency department physicians and are able to alert the hospital to the patient's condition prior to arrival.

Greater Risk

Driving someone to the hospital in an emergency could put you and the patient at greater risk:

  • Getting through traffic with a seriously ill patient in your vehicle can be very  distracting
  • Most individuals are not trained or equipped to safely provide emergency medical care
  • Few people carry life-saving equipment in their vehicle
  • Moving some patients could make their conditions worse

How Can I Help in a Medical Emergency?

Know What to Say

  • Calling for help is easy. Just dial 911. The information you give the emergency dispatch operator helps EMS help you.
  • Stay calm, speak clearly, and stay on the phone until the emergency operator tells you to hang up.
  • Tell the emergency dispatch operator where to find the person needing emergency care, who is hurt or sick, and what happened. The emergency operator will also need to know what condition the victim is in and if any help is being given.
  • Give the exact location of the emergency. Point out any landmarks—nearby intersections, bridges, and buildings that will help the ambulance crew find you. And leave your name, address, and telephone number in case the emergency operator needs to get back in touch with you.

Know What to Tell the Emergency Dispatcher

When you call 911, take the following steps:

  • Describe the emergency; speak slowly and calmly
  • Give your name and phone number
  • Give exact location/address and nearby landmarks
  • Give name, age, and number of patient(s) if known
  • Follow the dispatcher's instructions and answer all questions
  • Don't hang up until you are told to do so
  • Don't leave the scene until help arrives

Know What to Do Until Help Arrives

You've called for help. The ambulance is on the way. What do you do while you wait?

If the emergency operator gives you specific instructions, remember them and carry them out. Don't move someone who is injured unless he or she is in danger. Try to keep the person as warm and comfortable as possible. If someone else is with you, send him or her to meet the ambulance. Make it easy for the ambulance crew to spot you by turning on a porch light.

Know What to Do While Waiting for the Ambulance to Arrive

Things you can do for the patient:

  • Stay calm, keep patient calm
  • Keep patient awake and warm
  • Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink
  • Do not move a person who has been in a car accident, had a serious fall or is unconscious, unless he or she is in immediate danger
  • Perform first aid if you are willing and able

Know What to Do for Yourself & Your Family

  • Arrange for children to stay with a friend or neighbor
  • Pack a small bag for yourself
  • Bring insurance cards and family/friends contact information
  • Lock up the house and turn off all appliances

Know What to Do for Emergency Responders

If possible:

  • Light your location with a porch light
  • Send someone to the street to flag down the ambulance
  • Clear a route to the patient; move cars, furniture, plants, etc.
  • Close off pets from rescuers or put pets in another part of the house
  • Gather or write down all the patient's medications and allergy information to give to first responders
  • Check to see if the patient has any advance directives (such as Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders)

Note the time:

  • When did you last talk with the patient?
  • How long has the patient had this medical problem?
  • If unconscious, how long has it been?

What Are Some Examples?

Know which symptoms to watch for. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians and other national organizations, the following are some of the warning signs of a medical emergency:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Bleeding that won't stop
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure
  • Choking
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Drowning
  • Drug overdose or poisoning
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Heat stress or exhaustion
  • Hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature
  • Industrial accident
  • Mental change (such as confusion, unusual behavior, difficulty waking or speaking)
  • Motor vehicle accident injury
  • Neck or back injury
  • Severe burns
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
  • Sudden or intense pain
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Trauma (injury)
  • Unexplained seizures or convulsions
  • Unexplained severe headache
  • Unresponsiveness when talked to or touched

What Is a True Medical Emergency?

When should you call 911? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the victim's condition life or limb threatening?
  • Could the victim's condition worsen and become life or limb threatening on the way to the hospital?
  • Could moving the victim cause further injury?
  • Does the victim need the skills or equipment of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
  • Would distance or traffic conditions cause a delay in getting the victim to the hospital?

Who Are the People Behind 911?

  • First Responders are usually law enforcement officers and fire rescue crews who are first to arrive at the emergency scene. They assist emergency victims until EMS arrives, and are often trained as EMTs or paramedics.
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) have various levels of training. Some EMTs assist with rescues, and perform basic emergency care. Other EMTs are emergency dispatch operators who send ambulances and emergency vehicles to the emergency scene.
  • Emergency Dispatch Operators answer emergency calls, obtain the who, what and where information and send help right away.
  • Paramedics have the highest level of pre-hospital training. They perform medical procedures at the scene of the emergency or in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Using a radio to communicate, paramedics often get instructions from physicians.
  • Emergency Nurses are specially trained to help and treat emergency patients. They are the first contact at the emergency room; they meet the ambulance, get the patient's medical information and arrange for the doctor to see the patient.
  • Emergency Physicians are doctors who specialize in treating people who are seriously injured or who have become sick very suddenly, such as heart attack victims.