To be effective, emergency response and first aid care require constant communication. For citizen responders and professional rescuers alike, this communication begins with the recognition of the emergency and activation of the EMS system through the transport of the patient to the emergency room.
Communication with the Rescue Team
The victim of a serious injury or sudden illness cannot get the help needed until someone recognizes the emergency and activates the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system. A bystander does this by dialing 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Lifeguards and other first responders may activate an emergency action plan (EAP) for their facility.
- Calling EMS
- How to make a 911 call (eHow)
- Preparing for an emergency (eHow/Expert Village)
- Reporting an emergency (eHow/Expert Village)
- Tracking your location/Enhanced EMS (eHow/Expert Village)
- What should you do if you dial 911 accidentally (eHow/Expert Village)
- Why should you stay on the line during the 911 call (eHow/Expert Village)
- Worldwide emergency numbers (Wiki)
- Emergency action plans (EAP)
- Rescue team communication and coordination
Communication with Bystanders
The role of the bystander in an emergency should not be overlooked or underestimated. While sizing up the scene (see Assessment of the Scene and Patient), you may need to call on bystanders to help you by stopping traffic, controlling the crowd, making the call to EMS, checking victims in multicasualty incidents, obtaining emergency equipment, etc.
- Bystander lift car to rescue motorcyclist (Fox News)
- Human behavior experiments – bystanders and emergencies (Trivia Library)
- Step Up Program (U of Arizona)
- The bystander effect (Psychology Today)
- Would you help a stranger? (UMN)
- You! Call 911! (About.com)
If a rescue team has responded, bystanders may not need to help with the emergency. In this case, they should be moved out of the area to provide privacy for the patient and clear access for EMS personnel.
To be successful when working with an ill or injured patient, you must communicate in a way that achieves a positive, trusting relationship.
- Alzheimer’s: tips for effective communication (Mayo Clinic)
- Overcoming communication barriers (Patient Provider Comm)
- Therapeutic communication techniques (Austin Comm. College)
- Verbal first aid – part 1 (EMS World)
- Verbal first aid – part 2 (EMS World)
- Verbal first aid – part 3 (EMS World)
Transfer of Care/Communication with EMS Personnel
When more advanced medical personnel arrive on the scene, you must continue to provide care until asked to stop. Once you are relieved, you may need to give a verbal report about the emergency, the patient’s condition, and the care you have provided. This report should consist of the following:
- Patient’s name, age, and gender
- Current condition
- Chief complaint
- Mechanism of injury/nature of illness
- Medical history and physical exam findings
- Vital signs
- Emergency care provided with start time
Documenting the emergency, the victim’s condition, and the care you provide is essential for the following reasons:
- Your record may help more advanced medical personnel to assess the patient and continue care.
- Because the patient’s condition can change, your reco/rd can be used to compare the earlier condition of the patient with his or her current or future condition.
- This record can become a legal document and support your testimony of what you saw, heard, and did during emergency response.
- Documentation provides useful statistics when analyzing the effectiveness of response protocols and emergency care procedures.
Examples of emergency documents for lifeguards include:
- Rescue reports
- Assessment forms
- Accident/incident reports