A trip to the emergency room and what it taught me

    81
    10

    By Chuck Woodbury
    A man knocked on my door yesterday at 4 p.m. “Gail asked me to come get you,” he said. “She tripped and hit her head on concrete.” 

    I was out the door in 20 seconds. I found Gail sitting on the ground, wrapped in a thick blanket, surrounded by a half dozen RVers, holding her head with a blood-stained towel near her left eye. “Call an ambulance,” someone said. But Gail had not lost consciousness and talked normally. We determined it was best for me to drive her immediately to an urgent care facility about six miles away rather than wait for an ambulance.

    So I ran back to our RV, scared and anxious about the extent of her injuries.

    Quickly, I grabbed her jacket, a blanket and her purse with her driver’s license and insurance card. I tried to think of what else I should bring, but in my semi-panic state I couldn’t think of anything. Time was wasting.


    I jumped into our car, picked up Gail and we sped down the highway to the clinic. They checked her and said she needed to get to the nearby hospital emergency room for a CAT scan. I thought I knew where the hospital was, so we were off. Wrong, I didn’t know! So we drove in circles for a few minutes before we figured things out. What a critical mistake this could have been if time were critical! 

    The hospital performed the CAT scan, and it turned out she was okay, the only damage temporary — a black eye and some other temporary discoloration on the left side of her face.

    What I learned:
    •Know exactly where the nearest hospital or urgent care facility is located from you and how to get there.
    •Be sure you know at all times where your partner keeps his or her wallet or purse.
    •Be sure you know what medications your partner takes (I didn’t). What if Gail were unconscious?
    •Be sure you know if your partner has any drug allergies.

    And what about getting to the hospital when a 911 call may not be the best way? If you’re traveling with a motorhome, with no tow car, do both occupants know how to drive the RV? Read this article for more about this.

    Although it was not necessary this time, all occupants of your RV should know where the first aid kit is located (be sure you have one).

    I suppose it would also be important to know your partner’s blood type.

    Gail was able to go online with her phone and access her medical records, which helped her determine if she had a recent tetanus shot plus any other relevant information useful to treat her. Check with your primary care doctor to see if online access to your records is available.

    Would you please comment about other things or preparations we should have or know about in a medical emergency? I’m sure there are plenty I’ve missed.

    But first, a quick poll:

    81
    Leave a Reply

    avatar
    58 Comment threads
    23 Thread replies
    0 Followers
     
    Most reacted comment
    Hottest comment thread
    72 Comment authors
    Jim Piper, RNMaxwellBecca RayJBCJ Cripps Recent comment authors

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      Subscribe  
    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of
    JBC
    Guest
    JBC

    Reviewing all this advice I notice a piece missing. What if you have pets. If both of you are dealing with an emergency and may be gone for hours, who is taking care of the animals. Thoughts on this situation?

    JBC
    Guest
    JBC

    Forgot to add – check your health insurance. The cost of an ambulance may appear to be covered BUT the ambulance that arrives for your emergency may not be covered under your plan. This is the case in a lot of places. Also, when you reach the hospital and determine you have an emergency that requires admittance – determine if the services/doctor/etc are covered by your insurance plan. Address this as necessary. Family member still paying bills because they were taken to a hospital/staff not covered by their insurance – even though a hospital that was in their plan was… Read more »

    J Cripps
    Guest
    J Cripps

    A good opportunity for all of us to up our game. We all think we have/know everything – until we need it. All the responses have provided incredibly good suggestions and advice. One last item – remember to check your first-aid kit regularly. Many things need to be replaced due to degradation (band-aids, tape) and expiration dates (ointments). Finally, keep information current – any list you have must be updated regularly.

    Tom Bender
    Guest
    Tom Bender

    One problem in Oklahoma is if a helicopter is called Medicare won’t cover it and they can charge you what they want and you have to pay it.

    ScottA
    Guest
    ScottA

    As many have said before, yes… store it on your phone, but ALSO put it in your wallet(s).

    Include medication, allergies, Insurance info, primary Dr if there is one, and telephone numbers!

    I had to take my wife to an ER in Idaho during a trip, and I was so nervous I couldn’t even remember her phone number! Being sick or hurt in a strange town can be very frightening, I’m glad Gail is ok.

    Mike & Cathi Stark
    Guest
    Mike & Cathi Stark

    Thanks for this important public service announcement. I took a look at my emergency information on my phone and noted that I had listed our daughter as an emergency contact. Guess What?? She doesn’t have any of our medical information. That will be addressed directly.

    Dennis D
    Guest
    Dennis D

    Since I use a blood thinner I always carry hemostatic pads, also called blood clotting pads. Could be a lifesaver if you need to stop serious bleeding.

    Anne Capiro
    Guest
    Anne Capiro

    IPhones come with a Health app. Icon on main screen. Just add all your info. If you are unconscious emt can find all they need. Do not need pass codes.

    Peter J Nyvall
    Guest
    Peter J Nyvall

    Put a copy of your medical records in a tube in the freezer, fire department/emergency folks will look for them there, mark tubes with black marker “Emergency Info”

    Sue
    Guest
    Sue

    So glad to hear that Gail is okay and you will be better prepared in the future, should an emergency arise. My husband and I wear medical ID bands, that have all our information – doctors, insurance info, emergency contacts, prescriptions, drug allergies, shots and hospitalizations. Suggest you migt want to consider this by googling, MyIDBand. EMS personnel and hospital personnel can read the information on a PC or by calling and requesting information. You or your wife are the only updaters.

    Mark L Ebel
    Guest
    Mark L Ebel

    We are glad that Gail will be ok. Hope you have a quick recovery

    Bill Massicotte
    Guest
    Bill Massicotte

    Hope all is well with Gail and you? It takes an event like this sometimes to wake us up to what we should know but don’t. I am glad she has someone like you who is concerned about her well being. Love your newsletter and hope we can meet on the road in the future. Take care.

    Robbie
    Guest
    Robbie

    Garmin GPS has a tab for Hospital.

    Marcia Liddiard
    Guest
    Marcia Liddiard

    I have a paper copy of meds, medical history and any pertinent info in my purse and one in a basket. My husband has a printed list of my meds in his wallet. GPS should be able to take you to the closest hospital and /or clinic. You should always know the name of your rv park, the address, and your site number for any emergency that may arise. One of the first things we do after parking and setting up is to put the coordinates for the park in our ZGPS. You never know when you might have to… Read more »

    DAVE TELENKO
    Guest
    DAVE TELENKO

    So happy that Gail is Ok, hope the wounds heal fast! WOW that was a wake up call for me as I don’t have a clue what my wifes meds are or her blood type. For sure we’ll have that info & get it into both our phones with both of our medical information. Well Chuck you seemed to keep a pretty cool head when in your OMG mode, good job at getting the items you got.
    DaveTelenko

    Patti Lounsbury
    Guest
    Patti Lounsbury

    Very glad that Gail is okay and many thanks for all the very informative posts. Just realized I haven’t looked at our emergency medical info for at least 6 months so that is my next action this morning. Also added a reminder to my electronic calendars, right next to the one for batteries in the smoke/CO2 detectors.

    rp
    Guest
    rp

    One in four seniors fall. With more than 100 million seniors in the country, 25 million victims is one hell of a lot of falling, something, like me, you don’t want to be part of. What are the other three doing or not doing to never fall? Play around with a search on various terms such as “senior risk of falling.” You’ll soon conclude you’ll need to do a lot more preparation than just hang a thumb drive from your neck to save your bacon.

    10 Medications That Cause Falls
    https://dailycaring.com/10-medications-that-cause-falls-use-with-caution/

    Becca Ray
    Guest
    Becca Ray

    As we get older, there are exercises to perform to preserve/improve balance, flexibility & strength to prevent falls or at least mitigate the results to bruises & strains vs broken bone, bleeding and/or head/spine injuries. We must all be active in preserving as much of our health/function as possible.

    Karin
    Guest
    Karin

    Google is a marvelous thing, it can guide you to the nearest hospital quickly and easily.

    David Brewer
    Guest
    David Brewer

    We are all glad Gail is OK. Please tell her to quit horsing around.

    Kom Dixon
    Guest
    Kom Dixon

    Hi Chuck,
    I’m very happy Gail is okay. Just a suggestion: if you keep your information on your phone make sure your partner or someone else (If possible) knows your password if you keep it locked.
    Safe Travels,
    Kom

    Becca Ray
    Guest
    Becca Ray

    Emergency personnel can accesss health/medical information in cell phones even if locked if you set it up that way.

    Thom
    Guest
    Thom

    I carry a small O2 cylinder, a large first aid kit and just bought a automatic dfib machine…..hold certification in CPR, Red Cross first aid, first responder and certification for the new machine, hoping that I never have to use any of it!

    Dick O
    Guest
    Dick O

    As 20 year EMTs, we carry a huge aid kit. We have all our medical history in envelopes in the car, truck, and 5th wheel.

    Connie Fletcher
    Guest
    Connie Fletcher

    I keep a WORD document of all meds, allergies (what happens doing a reaction), emergency contact info and even by blood type. I placed in a plastic pocket protector in my purse. I was also told I could copy it to my phone for emergency access.

    David Ozanne
    Guest
    David Ozanne

    Always call for EMT’s to transport to the hospital. If something suddenly changes in the patient they are there to give treatment and they know where the hospital is.

    Gene Cheatham
    Guest
    Gene Cheatham

    Great advice! I’m a healthcare provider.and it’s important to be transported by ambulance. Once first responders get to you they are in communication with the ER department verbally and with telemetry ER can see all the monitoring the EMT’s are using. This is vital for the treatment team especially with heart issues as time is of the essence for specific treatment for best outcome.
    Please see the American Heart Association for signs and symptoms of heart attack or stroke. Women present differently than men and many miss these critical signs and symptoms.

    Jim Piper, RN
    Guest
    Jim Piper, RN

    What Gene said … and more. First of all, ANY head injury where the victim loses consciousness even for a moment and doesn’t remember the event should be transported to an ER by EMS checked out in an ER — not by POV (privately owned vehicle) and NEVER to a ‘Doc in the Box’! Urgent care clinics are NOT equipped to handle life threatening injuries and will likely forward an injury victim to an ER. Mr. Woodbury, with all due respect, you got v-e-r-y lucky. Though a head injury where the victim remains conscious might appear to be relatively ok… Read more »

    Don Nedrow
    Guest
    Don Nedrow

    I have a 1/4 page print out of all our medications. we both keep an updated copy in out purse. all I have to do at any medical facility is to pull it out and hand to them. we also have the quantity of the medication we take each day. when e fold out medication card it is the size of a credit card.

    get well Gail. I feel for you. I fell last may and now have a titanium plate with 12 screw. it was nice to have a driver for 12 week.

    Greyhound Express
    Guest
    Greyhound Express

    I keep a Word Doc with all insurance info, emergency contacts, all past surgeries, all meds and all doctors. It’s updated every time something changes and we carry it with us all the time.

    Shawnee Spencer
    Guest
    Shawnee Spencer

    Lots of great ideas, many of which I will add to our system. The Fort Myers Beach Fire Department handed out a red plastic pouch with a paper on which you could record your information., called ” File for Life”. The paper also included the local hospitals and their locations. The pouch has a magnetic strip so it can be attached to a metal surface. A red sticker was included to put on the window of your house or RV so that the emergency reponse people would know to look for the pouch. I revised the information sheet on the… Read more »

    Jane Stiles
    Guest
    Jane Stiles

    I also used the Garmin to find an E/R in Napa California. Unfortunately the closest E/R was a maternity only hospital. That would have been good information to know before I wasted time going there. I now call ahead to verify the location and to make sure the E/R can help me when out of town.

    Candy Dougherty
    Guest
    Candy Dougherty

    So glad Gail (and you) are okay. All very good advice.

    Vicki Dittemore
    Guest
    Vicki Dittemore

    As a single female RV’er, I make sure I have my medical info in multiple places in case of emergency; my cell phone “Emergency” button, in my contacts under “ICE”, photo’s of my Rx containers and Doctor business cards in “Photos”, and a hard copy of all info in a folder labeled “Important Papers”. Folder also has the medical records of my pets.

    rp
    Guest
    rp

    Seriously, do we even know how invasive a CAT scan is? No doubt the doctor already knew your wife was just fine, without needing a dangerous CAT scan. It’s not like you had to bring her into the emergency room on a gurney. But then how would you help him put his kids through college, much less help bankrupt the nation with a healthcare system that can now only be described as predatory medicine. When we seek medical care, we are the employer and the doctor is the employee. Yet we all behave like drones, rolling over for every doctor… Read more »

    Jann
    Guest
    Jann

    What a really dumb thing to post. Are you sure you are a doctor. Doctor of what? Sometimes you need a test just to be sure. Where do you find that CT scans are totally dangerous? I am amazed but happy to see that no one bothered with your post. I am the employer with doctors but am smart enough to listen to them.

    Greg Thompson
    Guest
    Greg Thompson

    x2

    rick
    Guest
    rick

    Agree, my wife has had quite a few CAT, PET scans & xrays to boot. They saved her life and continues to do so fighting a 6 year cancer case. I am not sticking up for traditional medicine proceedures/processes, but we found a great team w a great hospital and its ongoing…….

    Retired RN
    Guest
    Retired RN

    I don’t agree. One CT is not going to harm you with the radiation. Don’t scare people away from a test that could be lifesaving for someone else!

    Brad
    Guest
    Brad

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post – allopathic medicine a lot of times is more of a threat than helpful. The problem with the people responding to your post is ignorance clothed with pride. “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” (Boorstin). The medical/pharma complex has brainwashed western society into assuming it is invincible. One only has to have an open mind, do a little investigation to find it kills and ruins millions of lives every year. ““There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn’t true; the… Read more »

    suzanne
    Guest
    suzanne

    Yes, I worry about the CATs also. My adult son has had probably 50. Maybe more. I can vouch for Dr. Dean. She is a well-known physician throughout America.
    Glad it wasn’t more serious Gail. Take care of that noggin!

    Maxwell
    Guest
    Maxwell

    Yup…the mighty CT…cha-ching…MONEY MAKER. It is over ordered by Physicians and YES…radiation is dangerous! On the flip side…if a person takes a blood thinner such as Coumaden or Plavix, a CT would be an appropriate diagnostic tool based on the description of Gail’s bleeding.

    Jim Piper, RN
    Guest
    Jim Piper, RN

    Dr. Dean — I beg to differ. Unless an ER doc has x-ray eyes, it takes an x-ray — better, a CT — to detect the beginning of a subdural hematoma (“brain bleed”). Perhaps waiting for one pupil to blow before proceeding with interventions is the better course?

    Glenda Alexander
    Guest
    Glenda Alexander

    I always wear my Medical Alert necklace or bracelet, even around home. It has my name, birth date, blood type, allergies and contact name and phone number. This would be helpful, even for couples, because they’re not always together 24 hours a day and an emergency could occur during this time of temporary separation.

    Bruce Silvers
    Guest
    Bruce Silvers

    Make a list of all the medications that you and Gail take. Have all allergies listed and phone numbers to your primary care physician. Include all important health information. Be sure the type is clear and easily readable. Load all this information on a micro chip and with the carrier place it in your wallet. You can also add any additional pertinent information such as contact people and phone numbers. Be sure to update the information as prescriptions change. Save the information as a PDF file so any computer can download the information.

    Scott Taylor
    Guest
    Scott Taylor

    Hi Chuck – glad to hear Gail is OK. I need to stress as others the importance of calling 911. An ambulance is much more than a fancy ride to a hospital. As evidenced by your delay in trying to find the ER, the folks who respond technically bring the ER to you! They DO know the area, and the most appropriate place to take specific kinds of illness and injury. When time counts, they are in contact with the hospital before you even arrive, either initiating care or at least letting the receiving facility know what is headed their… Read more »

    Marianne
    Guest
    Marianne

    Exactly! Minutes count in an emergency. Thanks for this article Chuck. My hubby & I will take the lessons you learned to heart. We’re putting a card with our doctors contact info, plus meds list, and allergy list, and family contact info into each of our wallets, right behind the insurance card.

    Kathleen Walker
    Guest
    Kathleen Walker

    You can call me old-fashioned, but I like this idea. I have the info in my phone but my phone is password protected. A simple card is smart.

    Greg Thompson
    Guest
    Greg Thompson

    I have an app installed on my Android phone called ICE – In Case of Emergency that pops up on my phone’s lock screen. It allows emergency personnel to view Who to Call, ID & Insurance info Allergies, Conditions, and Medications. You enter the information so if you’re nervous about exposing personal information you can just leave it out. The program also allows the caregiver to select from 13 different languages. There are several apps that are similar. Just make sure the app works from the lock screen and then it doesn’t matter if you phone is locked or not.

    Joe Hesketh
    Guest
    Joe Hesketh

    Good advice Scott. Too often people are afraid or too hesitant to call 911.
    Something to remember is
    “EMT’s would rather be called and not needed than to be needed and not called”.
    Never hesitate to call 911 let them decide when they get there

    chris p hemstead
    Guest
    chris p hemstead

    All medical records should be available online. To heck with this HIPAA stuff.. in this day and age it can save lives.

    Diane McGovern
    Guest
    Diane McGovern

    Glad Gail …and you are ok. Scary. After reading all the great info in comment sounds like an idea for another article on what to do & have in an emergency on the road (good for at home as well). I would like to know about apps for storing info as well as hard copy ideas.

    MountainDi
    Guest
    MountainDi

    I saw the reference to using 911. But I’m not seeing the other important thing everyone ought to know. A good first aid class with CPR. Everyone should know basic first aid and CPR and those classes will also stress the use of 911. Unless you are out in the boonies where no cell coverage is available. And if you are on the road knowing first aid and CPR can be critical. I’m glad this worked out well Speedy healing to you both.

    Rose Marie Moran
    Guest
    Rose Marie Moran

    Just glad that Gail is OK. Good info in all the replies.

    Lou Beare
    Guest
    Lou Beare

    I like the thumb drive idea but I have a leather portfolio marked MEDICAL with all my printed medical records, lab reports, list of prescriptions and OTC meds, list of surgeries/immunizations, procedures, etc. I also have a list of prescription meds & allergies in my wallet next to my drivers license & insurance card.

    Dick HIme
    Guest
    Dick HIme

    My wife and I have small waterproof thumb drives on dog tag chains around our necks (or, in her case for vanity, sometimes in her purse). The documents on the thumb drives, contain all of our contact information, medications, allergies, care providers and insurance information, pertinent medical records, and blood type. All information is in both doc. and pdf. format. We call them our “digital dogtags”.

    Ann Andrews
    Guest
    Ann Andrews

    That is a good idea. We do have the written list of medications and a basic summary of our medical history in the RV, but if we are unconscious, no one would know where to look. This year’s project will be digital dog tag.

    Gail, hope you feel better soon.
    Chuck, have someone else drive. Ambulance would have many benefits.

    Ann Andrews

    Candace Walker
    Guest
    Candace Walker

    We each keep a copy of the others drivers license, list of medication taken and blood type in our wallets. I always keep 3 days of our medication in a small pill box in my purse. Came in handy when hubby had a motorcycle accident and I raced from work for a over night hospital stay. PLEASE call 911 next time head injuries can be serious. Glad Gail is going to be ok.

    Paulette
    Guest
    Paulette

    Wow, I know how Gail is feeling, I took that fall three weeks ago . My husband called 911 and they were there in a few minutes. Had a ct scan and as with Gail I was ok. Ended up with 2 black eyes and stitches over my eye and badly bruised nose and a headache for 2 weeks.

    Eugene Brown
    Guest
    Eugene Brown

    Just as many have commented, my wife has a complicated medical history. She keeps a file of the major points on our computer which we carry with us all the time. She also prints it out and will hand it to the nurses and doctors on her first visit. It sure saves a lot of time and she does not have to rely on memory. Glad Gail is going to be OK. Safe Travels.

    Tony Hool
    Guest
    Tony Hool

    What was YOUR emotional state while driving Gail to the Emergency Room? You stated you were driving around looking for it. What if, in your excited stated, heaven forbid you have an accident. There could be two or more injuries or deaths. I was an EMT over 22 years I have seen this happen several times. To avoid possible problems, if it is a minor problem you could take her to the ER, if it affects your emotions, ask someone to drive you. In a life threatening emergency ALWAYS call 911.

    Cory Martin
    Guest
    Cory Martin

    Put ICE (in case of emergecy) On your cell phone. Include a POC (Point of contact) and a list of the current medications you are taking, along with surgeries and other pertinent info. 1st Responders will look for it as part of triage. It saves lives.

    Paul Herbst
    Guest
    Paul Herbst

    I am not a healthcare professonal, but as a first responder for many years I’ve seen a lot. Chuck, I was really hoping to see the big one in your lessons learned… 911, 911, 911. You are forunate to live in a country that provides excellent first response level access to emergency services. Use it! As someone in the medical profession noted, head injury should automatically take you to that decision. EMS will know best how to diagnose, treat and then where to take their patient for advanced care. Things could have gone terribly wrong for you, so please tell… Read more »

    Chuck Woodbury
    Guest
    Chuck Woodbury

    Lesson learned, Paul. But one question. If an ambulance had to come from, say, eight miles away, pick her up, and then drive her to the hospital — say taking 40 minutes or so total time, but I could get her to medical care within 20 minutes total, which option would be best? That was my thinking. Right? Wrong?

    Jann
    Guest
    Jann

    Hi Chuck – I know you were thinking time matters in this case, but in these cases thinking is sometimes kind of in a state of I gotta hurry. If you get lost or have an accident it could be a real problem. Our rule of thumb while we were traveling full time and did not know exactly how to get to the closest hospital, was (1) Call 911 (2) put all info in purse or wallet (3) if office is open let them know what happened. I don’t think there is a total right or wrong here. This is… Read more »

    Paul Herbst
    Guest
    Paul Herbst

    Hi Chuck, Thanks for your response. While it is true that every situation is unique, my intent is to offer best practise. While I don’t have firsthand knowledge of the incident, I believe you mentioned that Gail had to be transferred from the “clinic” to a more advanced facility capable of running the prescribed test. This delay could have been avoided; wouldn’t you agree? I am also assuming that you didn’t have a trained EMS provider beside you for the trip, should Gail require attenton along the route. As primary caregiver, you always have the right to deviat from the… Read more »

    J. Bagby
    Guest
    J. Bagby

    Glad your Gail is ok.. I made each of us a business card with both of our med info on it. We each keep one in our billfolds. Even though this info is on our phones…. A hard copy is good to have.

    al aslakson
    Guest
    al aslakson

    We carry hard copies of our medical records in big manilla envelopes (our primary doctor provided five years worth) plus info on our respective meds lists, and we update it after every medical visit. The envelopes sit on the dinette table. We’ve never needed them, but you never know.

    Mike Sokol
    Guest
    Mike Sokol

    My mom just broke her hip and all us kids soon discovered that none of us had a medical power of attorney for her. So when she needed a blood transfusion while she was still in the hospital and my dad was away at an appointment, I couldn’t give the legal OK to the nurse. She couldn’t agree to it herself since she was on a lot of pain medicine and not aware of what was happening. So I had to keep calling dad until he picked up the phone to give a verbal OK to two nurses. Is there… Read more »

    Sally
    Guest
    Sally

    Glad everything turned out well. I, too, have taken a fall while camphosting last summer. Some other things to think about (if someone is not able to respond) what are their wishes. Have you and significant other talked about the what “if” this happens. Is there a DNR you need to find? Do you know where that living will is? We have what we call our “love” drawer in the RV. Just like batteries once a year, we talk it over to see if we are both on the same page. Most importantly — both of us are aware where… Read more »

    Randy Coleman
    Guest
    Randy Coleman

    Hi Chuck and Gail Glad the outcome was good. We had a neighbor do the exact thing 2 weeks ago, and he wasn’t so fortunate and passed away due to internal skull and brain trauma. Yes, use 911 or know the way in each stop, how to reach emergency services. Both my wife and I use our Iphones Emergency app, which is standard on the phone. There you can enter blood type, meds, dr, emergency contacts etc. And, being a retired FireFighter I always push the EMERGENCY link on someone’s phone, to see if it’s complete. I also include “ICE”… Read more »