When Your Child Needs Emergency Medical Services


It is rare for children to become seriously ill with no warning.   Based on your child's symptoms, you should usually contact your child's pediatrician for advice.  Timely treatment of symptoms can prevent an illness from getting worse or turning into an emergency.


What is a true emergency?

A true emergency is when you believe a severe injury or illness is threatening your child's life or may cause permanent harm. In these cases, a child needs emergency medical treatment right away.

Discuss with your child's pediatrician in advance what you should do in case of a true emergency.

Many true emergencies involve sudden injuries.  These injuries are often caused by the following:

Other true emergencies can result from either medical illnesses or injuries.  You can often tell that these emergencies are happening if you observe your child showing any of the following:

Call your child's pediatrician or poison control center at once if your child has swallowed a suspected poison or another person's medication, even if your child has no signs or symptoms.

Always call for help if you are concerned that your child's life may be in danger or that your child is seriously hurt.


In case of a true emergency

After you arrive at the emergency department, make sure you tell the emergency staff the name of your child's pediatrician.  Your pediatrician can work closely with the emergency department and can provide them with additional information about your child.  Bring any medication your child is taking and his immunization record with you to the hospital.  Also bring any suspected poisons or other medications your child might have taken.


Important Emergency Phone Numbers

    Keep the following numbers handy by taping them on or near your phone:

    Your home phone and address:   ___________________________________________________________

    Your child's pediatrician:  #   _____________________________________________________________

    Emergency medical services:
    (ambulance/911 in most areas) #   __________________________________________________________

    Police:  (911 in most areas) #   ____________________________________________________________

    Fire department (911 in most areas) #   ______________________________________________________

    Poison control center:  #   ________________________________________________________________

    Hospital:  #   __________________________________________________________________________

    Dentist:  #   ___________________________________________________________________________

It is important that sitters know where to find emergency phone numbers.  If you have "911" service in your area, make sure your sitters know where to find emergency phone numbers.  If you have "911" service in your area, make sure your sitter knows your home address and phone number, since an emergency operator would ask for this information.  Always leave your sitter the phone number and address where you can be located.

Remember, for any emergency always call your child's pediatrician or EMS.  If your child is seriously ill or injured, it may be safer for your child to be transported by emergency medical services.

The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician.  There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


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Material taken from the American Academy of Pediatrics.