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How to Decide If You Need To Call an Ambulance or Emergency Medical Transportation

When you believe you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency, you need an ambulance or emergency medical transportation to transport you or the person needing immediate medical care to the nearest hospital or emergency room.

But pause for a moment to consider the implications. Even if you are covered by health insurance, the co-payments and deductible is a formidable figure. So before you reach out for your phone, consider carefully whether your situation is so critical that you really need emergency medical transportation.

An ambulance ride is expensive, more expensive than you might have imagined. Just to give you an example, the Mayor of NYC in his 2011 report said that the average ambulance ride costs $1,099, a tab picked up by the taxpayer.

What alternatives do you have?

The first thing you can do is to call your doctor. If you have no one to drive you, call a cab. Unless it’s absolutely essential, don’t call 911.

Just in case you are not familiar with various medical emergencies, here are a few points on two of the most common conditions to help you decide whether or not you need emergency transportation. Of course there are other emergency situations which merit an ambulance, like a drug or alcohol overdose and of course serious domestic accidents, but these are exceptions rather than the rule. And of course people involved in motor vehicle accidents often need emergency medical transportation.

1. Possible heart attack
Symptoms of a possible heart attack which merit an ambulance or emergency medical transportation:
  • Chest pain
  • Pain which radiates to the neck, jaw or arms
  • A feeling of sickness and sweating along with your chest pain
  • Shortness of breath accompanied by chest pain
Symptoms are different in different people. Here are some other symptoms which should be viewed seriously
  • A feeling of heaviness in the chest with maybe a dull ache or pain
  • A feeling of being unwell because of chest discomfort
  • The pain in your chest spreads to your stomach or back
  • A chest pain which feels like an acute bout of indigestion
  • A dizzy or lightheaded feeling accompanied with chest pain
2. Possible stroke
Are you or someone having or about to have a stroke? Here are some typical symptoms which you should know about:
  • You are unable to smile because of facial weakness. Is your mouth or eye drooping?
  • Can you raise both arms or are you too weak to do so?
  • Are you having difficulty in speaking and articulating? Can you express yourself so others can understand you or are you slurring?
If you’ve answered no to any of the above, then chances are that you are not having an emergency. Are you feeling well enough to travel by car or cab? It might just be the preferred alternative.

And when you know you’re not in an emergency situation but still are in need of a safe medical transportation, it is always advisable not to get caught into anxieties, but to make use of non-emergency medical transportation facilities which provide the same level of safety and comfort.

What if it is an emergency?

In an emergency situation you have no option but to call 911 or private emergency medical transportation. Stay calm, or keep the patient calm while you wait for the emergency transport to arrive. Give precise instructions of where the vehicle is to come to minimize delay. If it is in fact an emergency every second counts. You need to know the exact address and it helps if you add some landmarks to help the driver. Remember most people today use cell phones or Internet based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) so your precise location is difficult to determine.

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