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Know when it’s an emergency

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether your problem is serious or not. Here are just a few examples* of when you require emergency medical care – and you should call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency department.

  • When you are experiencing pains or tightness in the chest
  • When you have severe pain
  • When you have shortness of breath
  • When a person is choking or having difficulty breathing
  • When you think you may have fractured or broken a bone, or have a wound that may need stitches
  • When you have sudden, severe headaches, vision problems, sudden weakness, numbness and/or tingling in the face, arm or leg, trouble speaking, or dizziness
  • If your child has diarrhea and vomiting and won’t eat or drink
  • When a baby under six month has a fever over 38.5°C (101°F)
*If you have any doubts, call 9-1-1. The ambulance will take you to the appropriate emergency department.

Remember:

  • The ambulance can’t help you if they can’t find you
  • Stay calm–give clear information
  • Clear a path to the patient–move furniture, unlock doors
  • If possible have someone meet the ambulance
  • Be sure your house number is clearly visible from the street
  • If you live in a house–turn on the outside lights at night
  • If you live in an apartment–try to meet the ambulance at the lobby door and have the elevator ready.
  • Do not move the patient, unless life is threatened.
What to do

Be prepared to answer the following questions related to the patient’s condition:

  • Consciousness
  • Breathing
  • Bleeding

In Toronto, call the emergency number 9-1-1 for medical emergencies. Be sure to state your name, address of the emergency and phone number from where you are calling.