What to Do During Medical Emergencies: A Practical Guide

Whether you’re at home or taking a leisurely walk outside, medical emergencies can happen when you least expect them. These situations can be frightening, especially if you were caught unprepared to handle them.

But you must be ready. Learning the proper first aid for different medical emergencies and understanding what you need to do could help minimise injury and even prevent a life-threatening situation.

This article also serves as a practical guide to what you must do in case of an emergency and when you should seek emergency services in Dubai.

1. Prepare Emergency Supplies

Preparing for health emergencies should be the first thing you do whenever you’re going on a trip. However, it also pays to have emergency supplies ready even if you’re just staying home.

Be sure to top up your supplies at least two times annually. Don’t forget to check if some have already expired and need to be replaced.

Below are some of the basic items your first-aid kit should include:

  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages
  • Cold packs
  • Latex gloves
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rehydrating fluids or oral rehydration salts
  • Safety pins
  • Soap
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Other maintenance medication you or your family may require (e.g., anti-allergy drugs prescribed by allergy specialists, diabetes maintenance, hypertension meds, etc.).

Once complete, you can put your first-aid kit in your vehicle in case you’re away. You should also have another set stored in an easily accessible location in your home.

2. Know the Signs

Getting immediate medical help for someone can mean life or death – literally. But to do so, you must make sure that you know what an actual emergency looks like.

You can use the following signs to determine when to seek emergency services for yourself or others:

  • Continuous bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Confusion and odd mental behaviours
  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Loss of consciousness or fainting
  • Spine or head injury
  • Persistent and severe vomiting
  • Accidents leading to burns, smoke inhalation, road accidents, near drowning, deep gashes, or other injuries
  • Sudden and severe pain in the body
  • Dizziness, weakness or changes in vision
  • Severe abdominal pressure or pain

3. Learn CPR

In cases where medical practitioners and emergency responders are too far from the site of the emergency, you need to act fast. This means you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) yourself.

There are plenty of organisations that offer CPR training for civilians. Fire departments, hospitals, and other government entities also provide short courses on this.

Remember: Knowing how to perform CPR can save a life.

4. The Right Solution for Every Situation

When administering first aid during medical emergencies, you need to remember that there’s no universal solution to every scenario. That said, here are some of the common situations and the correct course of action you should take for each of them:

Fainting or Dizziness

Before everything else, dial the emergency medical hotline immediately. Dizziness can be caused by a variety of things – low blood sugar, heart attack, pregnancy, heatstroke, and many others – and some of these require immediate medical attention.

While you wait, you should:

  • Determine alertness. Ask a series of questions to determine the patient’s level of alertness and orientation. In case they become unresponsive, check their breathing and pulse. Ask other people to help.
  • Perform CPR in case there’s no pulse or the breathing stops.
  • Ensure the patient is comfortable. Someone who’s out in the heat should be moved to a shady area. If they’re sweating a lot, pour water on their skin. If they’re awake, offer them something to drink.

Chest Pain

In case someone complains about chest pain or grabs their chest, always assume it’s a heart attack until proven otherwise. This is what emergency health workers recommend. Remember that anyone can have a heart attack, and it can strike at any time and for various reasons.

Call for emergency services immediately. After that, check ABC (airway, breathing, and circulation). If they’re not breathing or don’t have a pulse, begin CPR.


Bleeding due to a cut may not always be problematic, though a cut tendon could spell trouble. All wounds should be tended to right away even if the patient insists that they are fine.

Take note: Instead of a tourniquet, apply direct pressure on the bleeding site. Put a rag around it and hold tight to stop the bleeding.


When someone is choking and coughing, leave them alone. Patting them on the back or performing the Heimlich manoeuvre can make it worse.

Coughing means there is air movement in their lungs, so you must let them be. Only when they’re not making any noise and their face begins to turn red should you perform the Heimlich (a method of pushing air from the lungs to make a patient cough out the object blocking the airways).

5. Remain Calm

You cannot help anyone if you’re the first one to panic.

That said, you must keep a level head, compose yourself, and remain calm throughout the process. This will allow you to work through the situation more carefully.

Being calm will also give you a clear head as you perform first aid, take mental notes of the incident, and report the incident in a detailed manner to medical personnel and other authorities involved.

Plus, it would prevent things from becoming more complicated than they already are. Ever heard of the Good Samaritan who got hit by a vehicle while rushing to help other people?

Instead of helping, this can make the emergency responders’ job more difficult, so there are times when it would be best not to get involved. Remember that if you cannot safely help, the right thing to do would be to report the situation and wait for the professionals to respond. This will prevent you from putting yourself or anyone else in jeopardy.

Keep Calm and Save a Life

Medical emergencies call for a quick and calm response. Make sure that you know what to do in case one takes place while you’re around and be prepared to save a life.


Vanessa Batten is a marketing and communications specialist with 10 years’ experience in the UAE healthcare industry and is the Senior Communications Officer at Mediclinic Middle East. Operating seven hospitals and 20 outpatient clinics with more than 900 inpatient beds in the UAE, Mediclinic is focused on providing specialist, multi-disciplinary services across the continuum of care and is regarded as the most respected and trusted provider of private healthcare services in the UAE.