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How to Handle an Emergency

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

A medical emergency means someone needs care from a doctor right away. Let's find out what to do if one happens.

Calling for help is the most important thing a kid can do in an emergency.

If you make an emergency phone call, here's what to do:

  • Take a deep breath to calm down a little.
  • Call 911.
  • Tell the operator there's an emergency.
  • Say your name and where you are (the exact address if you know it).
  • Explain what happened and how many people are hurt. (The operator will need all the information you can provide, so give as many details as you can.)
  • Follow all of the operator's instructions carefully.
  • Stay on the line until the operator says it's OK to hang up.

After calling for help, your first thought might be to rush over to the person who's injured. But stop and look before you do. Make sure the scene is safe. If it's not, wait in a safe spot until a grown-up or an emergency team arrives.

If the scene is safe, and you're sure someone called 911 (or you called it yourself), stay with the person who's injured and wait for help to arrive. Don't move someone who could have a neck or other bone injury — for instance, from a fall. Moving someone who has that sort of injury can make it much worse. Try to stay calm.

Being Prepared for an Emergency

The best way to handle an emergency is to be prepared for one. Knowing what to do ahead of time can help you stay in control so that you can help.

Here are some ways to be ready to help in an emergency:

  • When you're outdoors, make sure you're in an area where you can call out for help even if you don't have a phone with you.
  • Know how to call 911 or your local emergency number (in most areas in the United States, it's 911).
  • If you have one, carry a cellphone or know how to use your parent's cellphone.
  • Learn first aid. Look for basic first-aid classes with your local Red Cross, the YMCA or YWCA, the Boy or Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, your local hospital, and other organizations. Or ask your school nurse to have a first-aid class just for students in your school.

It's scary to think about someone getting hurt. But the truth is that accidents can and do happen. So it's good to know what to do if someone needs emergency medical help. Even though you're a kid, you can make a big difference by doing the right thing.

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2019