When to call 911 and what to do while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
A medical emergency is something you can’t manage at home, a walk-in clinic, or with your family doctor.
Examples of medical emergencies include:
- Chest pain or tightness.
- Choking or difficulty breathing.
- Sudden and severe headache, vision problems, weakness, numbness, or dizziness.
- Sudden trouble speaking or tingling in your face, arm, or leg.
- A fracture or break in a long bone such as an arm or leg.
- A wound that needs stitches.
- A child with diarrhea and vomiting who will not eat or drink.
If you’re not sure how serious your health concern is, call 911.
Calling 911 doesn’t mean you’ll get faster care once you reach the hospital. Emergency room staff decide who needs to be seen first based on their illness or injury. It does not matter if you arrive by ambulance or by car.
Learn more about the 911 service.
Peel paramedics may ask you to sit in the emergency room if you’re well enough instead of keeping you on their stretcher. Learn about the Fit2Sit pilot program.
It’s helpful if you can do the following while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Outside your home
- Turn on your outside lights so your house number and front door are visible.
- Remove cars from your driveway if you’re not caring for the patient. Put away items that may get in the way, such as bicycles or a garden hose.
- Shovel a path through the snow so the paramedics can bring the stretcher to your front door.
- Salt the path, front porch, and steps.
- Have someone stand outside your home to flag down the paramedics. This will help them locate your house right away.
Inside your home
- Make sure your front door is open. Have someone stand at the door to meet the paramedics.
- Clear the path to the patient. Remove items such as shoes or small rugs from the floor, steps, and around the front door.
- 1 or 2 people can stay with the patient if the patient can’t speak for themselves. Ask others in your home to go to another room.
- Put pets in a different room.
- Do not smoke or vape.
Patient’s personal items and medication
- Print and complete an updated medical information card for the patient.
- Get the patient’s Ontario Health Card (OHIP card).
- Pack a bag for the patient that includes:
- Any medication they will need to take while at the hospital.
- Clothing and shoes for them to wear home from the hospital.
- Their mobile phone if they’re well enough to use it. They’ll need their phone to call you to pick them up from the hospital.
- A mobile phone charger.