Activating the EMS

Video 9 of 30
3 min 32 sec

For anybody experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, you must activate the emergency medical services on the nation-wide number, 911. This works no matter what state you are in and will connect you to the nearest dispatcher. It’s a toll-free number and most mobile phones will allow you to call 911 even if the phone is locked and you don’t have the unlock code. When you call the emergency services, it is important to give them some basic information. You must make sure that they know early on that this is an anaphylactic reaction. This means that they will send someone out to you very quickly, but they will need further information from you. They will need to know who the person is, and they may ask you about their age or gender, and of course where exactly you are.

Now sometimes knowing where you are is not always that easy. It may be you have travelled somewhere and are not sure of the exact address. If you are dialling from a landline phone, the emergency services can usually track you very, very easily. Have a look at the phone. It may well be that something close by has the address on. Maybe a panel if you are calling from a payphone, where there'll be a little card that actually says your location. If you are dialling on a mobile but you’re unsure exactly, then tell them where you think you are. They will be able to triangulate your signal, so maybe they just need to know what else around you can see. Emergency medical services will give you lots of information during the call, and will also instruct you on what you should be doing. You will be able to ask them questions. Tell them if the anaphylactic drug been delivered. If you are worried, they can stay on the phone right up until the paramedics arrive, and when they do, you need to tell them exactly what has happened and what medical treatment has been given. If the person has had one or even two auto-injector doses, they will need to know that so they know what drugs that they can then give, without the danger of overdosing. Any treatment you have given, hand to the paramedics when they arrive, they will be able to see the exact type and make of the drug, and exactly the dose that's been given.

If you are at work, it's a good idea to make sure you know who has been trained in CPR and first aid. In a workplace, you may have a special emergency plan, so people should know if a certain person is susceptible to anaphylaxis. You would dial the emergency services first, but you must also then activate the in-house first aider. If you have got any doubts about what to do in the workplace, please ask your manager. If you are working in a child setting, perhaps in a school, there will also be policies and procedures in place as to where the drugs are kept, so in the case of an emergency you can access them quickly. The most important thing, if someone is having an allergic reaction, is that you must dial the emergency medical services immediately and tell them you have an anaphylactic emergency.

While you are waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive, you should monitor for other issues, such as loss of consciousness, an increase in breathing difficulties, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest. If the person stops breathing but still has a pulse, perform rescue breathing. If the victim stops breathing and loses his or her pulse, begin full CPR. If the victim begins showing signs of shock – cool, pale, sweaty skin and a rapid pulse – cover him or her with a sheet, coat, or blanket and keep them as warm and comfortable as possible while waiting for EMS to arrive.