3 reasons to call 911 vs. taking yourself to the ER

BlackDoctor.org | 8/8/2017, 11:46 a.m.
If you have a life-threatening emergency medical condition or traumatic injury, you should call 911.

If you have a life-threatening emergency medical condition or traumatic injury, you should call 911. However, sometimes people are nervous about calling 911 and try to get themselves to the emergency room via car. This can be very dangerous.

Here are 3 reasons you should call 911 for an ambulance, rather than transport yourself to the emergency room.

1. Severe Medical Conditions and Trauma

Some of the top reasons you should call 911 include if you are having difficulty breathing, chest pain, signs of a stroke, seizure, think you are in labor, having bleeding that cannot be controlled by holding pressure, have been involved in a serious car accident or serious trauma. If your condition is serious it may worsen on your way to the emergency room, so it may be dangerous to be transported by a private vehicle versus an ambulance.

2. Medicine and Equipment on Ambulances

First responders, like paramedics, have medicine and equipment on their trucks that can help stabilize your emergent condition. Ambulances carry oxygen and have tools for intubation; they can do EKGs which can detect a heart attack; they have medication to help your blood pressure, breathing, pain; and they also have tourniquets and other equipment that can help control bleeding. They also can get you to the emergency room safer and faster than you can yourself.

3. Knowledge of Hospital Specialist Availability

Emergency professionals also will know the best hospital to go to for your emergency. For example, some hospitals have the capability to take care of patients with strokes, have catheterization labs for patients with heart attacks, obstetrical services for women in labor, and specific surgeons that can take care of your emergency. This may not be information that you have readily available and can save you precious life-saving time.

If you are having symptoms of a stroke, it is best to go to a hospital that is a certified stroke center, as there is better access to life-saving medications and procedures, therefore better outcomes. It is possible to reduce the devastating effects of a stroke using a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), but this medication can only be given within a certain period of time from when the symptoms started. If you fall out of this window you may not be eligible to receive this medication. This medication is also not available at all hospitals. African Americans are less likely to receive this medication than Caucasians largely due to greater pre-hospital delay among African Americans (like not calling 911 for evaluation and transport), and therefore are more likely to suffer greater disabilities from the stroke.