Preparing for an emergency

Preparing for an emergency

Courtesy Acadian Ambulance Service, Denton LIVING WELL Magazine

In a medical emergency, seconds count. Taking some simple steps now to prepare your family and home could be invaluable if you ever need to call for help.

“Getting ready for an emergency can save more than just time,” says Porter Taylor, vice president of Acadian Ambulance Service’s North Texas operations. “It can save a life.”

Here are some guidelines from the experts at Acadian:

Know where to find the information you’ll need. Keep emergency numbers for police, fire and EMS posted by each phone in your home. If your phone has a speed-dial function, program it with the emergency numbers and label them.

It’s a good idea to also post your address and detailed directions to your home near every phone. In an emergency, you could be so anxious that you won’t remember them—or you might need a guest or someone who is less familiar with the location to make the call.

If you don’t have a home phone, post this information in an easy-to-find spot, such as on the refrigerator or at a family message center. Make sure all family members and frequent visitors know where to find it.

Keep your family’s medical records—including a list of all medications being taken—handy and up-to-date.

Prepare for the ambulance to arrive. Make sure your home can be identified, even in the dark. Your house number should be visible and large enough to read from the road. Turn on an outside light. If possible, have someone go outside to wait for the first-responders and medics.

Stay on the line. When you’re talking with a medical dispatcher, you’re talking with someone who can save a life. Remain calm, stay on the line and answer all of the dispatcher’s questions. Follow any instructions he or she gives you. Remember, the ambulance already is on the way; the dispatcher can provide lifesaving assistance until it arrives.

Learn CPR. Being prepared for an emergency can take away much of the fear and anxiety. The American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and many hospitals sponsor free bystander CPR courses.

Acadian Ambulance Service also has developed a free, high-tech approach to preparing for an emergency. While many people have set up I.C.E.—“in case of emergency”—contacts on their cell phones, it’s impossible for authorities to find them if the phone is locked.

To solve this problem, Acadian’s I.C.E. app creates an emergency-contact banner for your phone’s home screen or lock screen. Even if the phone’s owner is unable to communicate or if the phone is locked, emergency responders can see the contact information.

The I.C.E. app also can securely store information on current medications, medication allergies and health conditions. This information can be accessed only after the phone has been unlocked.

This free app is available for iPhone and Android. Search “Acadian I.C.E. in the App Store or Google Play. For more information, visit