Accident & urgent medical

Canstock Images/accident .jpgAccidents and illness are a natural part of growing up. Yet despite their inevitability, it is not always clear what we should do or where we should go to for help.

Medical emergencies

If the situation is a medical emergency, always CALL 111 and ask to speak to “ambulance”.

A medical emergency exists if a person is experiencing:

  • chest pain or tightness (may also be felt in arm, jaw, neck or upper abdomen (tummy))
  • difficulty breathing
  • choking
  • sudden weakness or difficulty talking
  • fainting or unconsciousness (not being awake)
  • severe pain
  • severe bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop

If it is not an emergency, you should see your doctor or an after-hours doctor.

If you’re still not sure if the situation is an emergency you can phone Healthline (0800 611 116) where a Registered Nurse will advise you on the assistance you should seek – including whether you need an ambulance or should go to your doctor.

What to Do During a 111 Call

1. When you are connected to an Ambulance Communication Centre you will be asked a series of questions. The first question they will ask is for your address where the person needing assistance is. Give the full address details including any apartment/unit name or business name (if applicable) and number.

2. You will be asked for your telephone number. Provide your number and your extension (if you are at work).

3. Once the operator has the necessary address and telephone details, you will be asked to tell the operator exactly what happened and answer specific questions about the medical emergency. Possible questions include the following:

  • Are you with the patient?
  • How old is the patient?
  • Is this a male or female?
  • Are they awake?
  • Are they breathing?

Be assured that these questions do not delay the response of an ambulance; they are necessary in order to arrange the correct care for the patient.

Once all the above information has been gathered you will be provided with immediate first aid instructions to assist the patient. If necessary the operator will remain on the phone to give you support and further instructions until the ambulance arrives. During this time you may be asked some additional questions to provide the ambulance crew with as much information as possible


Urgent treatment required

Even if the situation is not a medical emergency, urgent medical treatment may still be required. Some illnesses and injuries can quickly turn deadly without prompt medical attention.

You should get medical help quickly if your child:

May have been poisoned:

  • If the child is awake, call the Poisons Centre on 0800 POISON / 0800 764 766.
  • If the child is sleeping or unconscious, lay them on their side and call 111 for an ambulance.
  • DO NOT induce vomiting with out advice from the Poisons Centre or doctor.
  • Some poisons can burn the throat and vomiting increases the risk of burns and lung damage.
  • Give a small drink of water if the product taken is corrosive or irritating, for example household cleaners.
  • NO OTHER FLUIDS should be given unless advised to by the Poisons Centre or a doctor.

Has diarrhoea and vomiting and has any of the following:

  • will not drink or eat normally
  • has several runny dirty nappies in one or two hours
  • vomits often
  • is very thirsty
  • has a fever
  • has blood in their stools
  • is unusually irritable
  • has sunken eyes and a dry mouth
  • has diarrhoea that lasts longer than 24 hours

May have meningococcal disease:

  • High temperature (fever) – possibly with cold hands and feet
  • Headache – which may be severe
  • Neck stiffness – unable to touch chin to chest
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Vomiting and sometimes diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures (convulsions)

Symptoms that may occur in adults and children include:

  • Symptoms that may occur in babies include:
  • High temperature (fever) – though the hands and feet may feel cold
  • Refusing feeds
  • Vomiting
  • High pitched moaning cry or whimpering
  • Bending neck backwards or arching of the back
  • Floppiness
  • Irritability and dislike of being handled
  • Turning face away from light
  • Pale and blotchy skin
  • Lethargic and/or difficult to wake
  • Blank staring expression
  • Bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on the baby’s head)
  • Seizures (convulsions)

Meningococcal disease is most likely to affect very young children, teenagers and young adults, with more than 80% of all cases occurring in those aged 0 – 19 years. Of this group, approximately 50% of cases will occur in children less than five years of age.

Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms are usually similar to a bad cold or ‘flu. The illness may develop slowly over a couple of days or may worsen rapidly over a few hours. Symptoms do not appear in any particular order and some may not occur at all.

If meningococcal disease is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. Urgent hospitalisation and treatment with antibiotics can be lifesaving and can reduce the effects of the disease.