When Time is of the Essence in an Emergency
By: Sunshine Bartlett, RN
Boundary Community Hospital Emergency Department
Published in the Bonners Ferry Herald 6/21/2018
The man sitting beside you in church slumps forward. When you speak with him his words are slurred. He seems unable to lift one of his arms.
You are at a family dinner. Your aunt mentions to you she has been having chest pain for the last 30 minutes. She doesn’t want to cause a fuss. She wants to know what you think she should do.
You are driving down the road. You come upon a truck which ran off the road and struck a tree.
What do these three situations have in common?
They are all considered Time Sensitive Emergencies.
Time sensitive emergencies are medical conditions where rapid treatment can make a big difference in the eventual outcome for a person.
The state of Idaho has recognized Stroke, Heart Attack and Trauma as circumstances where timely care can prevent and lessen disability and even death. Many of the Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) and hospitals throughout the state are adopting new systems to reduce delays for these people. These measures include calling ahead an alert to make these patients a priority, developing protocols to assure the highest level of care and expediting transfers to the most appropriate facility.
You are the most crucial piece in the chain. Without people in the community alerting medical personnel the process cannot begin.
What can you do if you recognize the signs of these critical situations?
Slurring of speech, facial droop and/or weakness on one side of the body.
Chest pain or pressure which can move into the neck or arm, sweating, nausea and/or pale skin.
Any concerning trauma or injury.
First, remain calm and Call 911. EMS in Boundary County have been trained to respond and treat these emergencies. They will notify the Hospital of the type of emergency so other preparations can be made.
Next, stay with the person. Dispatch may have questions for you which can help EMS locate and treat the person who is sick or injured.
In each of these cases, the quicker the person can get to medical care, the better the chance they will go on to lead a healthy and productive life. Your ability to recognize these critical situations and act may really make a difference in someone’s life.
Boundary Community Hospital in Boundary County and Bonner General Health in Bonner County have been designated as Level IV Trauma Centers by the State of Idaho for Time Sensitive Emergencies.
Stroke? Think F A S T
Stroke Cincinnati Pre-Hospital Stroke Scale
Face: Ask the person to smile
– does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms – does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase – is their speech slurred?
Time: Time is brain! Stroke is an EMERGENCY!