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When is a Situation an Emergency?

Generally, it is an injury or illness that occurs unexpectedly and is life threatening or could cause serious harm to a person. Here are some guidelines to help you determine if an emergency situation exists:

1. An emergency situation is when a person becomes suddenly ill or injured and must have immediate medical attention or else his/her condition may worsen and possibly result in death.

2. If you believe that an emergency situation does exist, do not hesitate to get medical help. Types of emergency situations include the following:

   • chest pains
   • poisoning
   • heart attack
   • strokes
   • car accidents
   • choking
   • breathing difficulties
   • drownings or near drownings
   • burns
   • overdoses
   • head, brain or spinal cord injuries

3. Any severe stomach or chest pains may be a sign of an impending emergency.

4. Any cut that bleeds profusely or uncontrollably needs medical attention.

5. Any injury that results in broken bones, sprains and bad bruises should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

6. If someone regains consciousness after being unconscious for any length of time, the person still needs to get medical assistance.

7. If a person needs medical service late at night, early in the morning or on a holiday and his/her physician is not available, the person should go to an emergency department.

What to Do When Someone Needs Help

If an emergency situation does occur:

1. Do not panic. It is important to stay calm in any emergency.

2. Check to see if the victim is breathing. If the victim is not breathing, call for help.

   • If you know mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR and are alone with the victim who is not breathing, perform resuscitation procedures until medical help arrives.
   • If someone is with you, whoever is more familiar with resuscitation procedures should help the victim while the other person goes for help.

3. If the victim is unconscious and breathing, call for help.

4. If the victim is conscious, make the victim as comfortable as possible.

     • Make the victim stay calm and rest.
     • Assure the victim that you will go for help.
     • Call for help. Dial 911.

5. If the victim has swallowed poison, follow instructions on the poison container on what to do if poison is ingested. Remove any residual poison from the victim's mouth. Call for help. Bring the container to the emergency room so that the staff can readily identify the substance and treat the patient accordingly.

What to Do When Waiting for Help to Arrive

After calling 911, it takes about 10 minutes for medical help to arrive, depending upon the location of the victim. Here are some tips on how you can help the victim while waiting for professional medical assistance to arrive.

Watch for the Ambulance
If possible, have someone watch for the ambulance to direct it to the victim's location.

Handle with Care
Anyone with suspected broken bones or neck or back injuries should not be moved until an ambulance, rescue person or someone with experience is at the scene. If you must move the person because of dangerous surrounding conditions, immobilize his head, neck and shoulders and move him with minimal movements.

Stop Any Bleeding
Wrap a clean cloth or bandage around a bleeding wound and apply direct pressure on the cut. Elevate the injured area, if possible, above the heart level. Ice maybe used to decrease swelling.

Relieve first and second degree burns (blistered and/or reddened skin) by placing the burned area in cool water. Cover the burn with a clean cloth. Chemical burns caused by solutions such as acids or drain and toilet bowl cleaners should be washed off the skin with lots of cool water.

Look for Shock
If the face is drained of color, skin is cold and moist and the pulse is weak, rapid and faint, the person may be in shock. Wrap the victim in blankets or clothing, make the victim lie down and elevate the feet, unless doing so will make other injuries worse. Keep the victim calm.

Broken Bones
Do not let the victim move around. Broken bones underneath the skin may lacerate an artery or cause more damage if the victim is moved by inexperienced people. However, if surrounding conditions are life-threatening, the victim must be moved with or without a splint which can be made from a broomstick, tightly rolled newspaper or other firm object.

Turn the victim face down, allow only a few seconds for lungs to drain. If the victim is breathing, coughing and sputtering, the victim will be able to eject the remaining water. Stand by to see that recovery continues. If the victim does not breathe after allowing the water to drain, turn the victim over and make sure his airway is clear, then begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or use CPR if there is no pulse.

Kuakini's Emergency Services Department

A trip to the emergency room may be a time of anxiety and panic, especially when it is your first visit. Should an emergency situation arise, please seek the medical expertise that is available at a hospital's emergency room.

Kuakini Medical Center's emergency services department includes observation and specialized treatment rooms for cases involving trauma, cardiac, orthopedic, ear, eye, nose and throat problems. The rooms are equipped with various life-saving machines, medicines, special trauma stretchers and even an incubator.

Whether the emergency is a car accident, household accident, heart attack or an infection, a qualified staff which includes an emergency medical physician is always available to help, 24 hours each day of the year. Specialty physicians are also available on-call.

After treatment, patients who may need home care information receive instructions on follow-up care - what to do after leaving the hospital.

At times the quickest way to get a patient to a hospital or to reach an injured person may be by air. Emergency cases can be transported directly to Kuakini by helicopter; a helipad is located on Kuakini's campus.

Kuakini's emergency room is equipped and ready to provide professional emergency room care when you need it.


When someone needs immediate medical care, you may be the only one around who can assist the victim. Time is crucial. By knowing what to do and what not to do when an emergency occurs, you may be a life saver.

If you don't know how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR, you should learn these procedures as soon as you can.

Keep a file or small notebook with important medical information about family members in an easily accessible drawer or area in case it is ever needed. Let others in your family know where the information is kept. Bring it with you to the emergency department.

Share this with your family and friends. Prompt emergency care may mean the difference between life and death for someone you know.

(This information should not replace professional medical assistance. It is provided to inform and help you in an emergency situation while awaiting an ambulance or the fire/rescue team).