I am so grateful to have a number of friends who are paramedics, EMT’s and medical personnel. In my 15 years of teaching CPR, Babysitting CPR (youth class age 11+) and First Aid, I have been able to ask them questions, get clarification about issues my students bring up, and ask about changes made in protocols by medical directors of the certifying agencies. I appreciate their advanced knowledge so much.
If in Doubt, Call Them Out
One of my paramedic friends once told me to tell my students to call 911 – “If in Doubt, Call Them Out“. I love that advice. It covers the idea that so many of us are “lay responders“. We are the public. We don’t have advanced training, though we hopefully have taken a CPR course, recently. (Go, getting trained!) We ARE the most likely to recognize an emergency – we are with loved ones, co-workers, out in the community, and may see an urgent issue arise. We are the ones who might call 911.
To me, “If in Doubt, Call Them Out” is about quick access to Dispatchers. Dispatchers are there for you. They answer your call and help you do a myriad of things – help you calm down if you’re flustered, clarify what is happening, ask vital questions, give vital direction – and STAY with you on the line.
We get so used to ordering a pizza (call, order, hang up) that we can forget that excellent median step between placing our call up to the arrival of EMS (Emergency Medical Services). We can forget that the Dispatchers stay with you, help you, advise you.
Should I call 911?
You have every right to doubt if you should call 911… You’re not a paramedic, right? We hesitate; we’re not sure… We fear “what if it’s not an emergency”? What if I’m wrong? (Even – “will I get in trouble”!) HOLD THOSE HORSES! That’s why Dispatchers are there for you! They will help you ascertain the extent of the urgency. We, Jane and Joe Public, are doing the best we can, right? We’re not medically trained. We’re not paramedics. We just try to do our best. Yep, If in Doubt, Call Them Out! Call 911.
Finally – please take CPR! In that window of time before EMS arrives, you can use your skills to save a life. Those minutes until their arrival are vital. You CAN save a life – it’s happening all the time.