A medical emergency is an injury or illness that poses an immediate threat to a person's health or life which requires help from a doctor or hospital. The doctor's specialization of emergency medicine includes techniques for effective handling of medical emergencies and resuscitation of patients.
The proper way to handle a medical emergency is to activate emergency medical services by calling for help using a local emergency telephone number, such as 911 in Canada or the United States, 999 in the UK, 112 in most of continential Europe, 000 in Australia and 111 in New Zealand. Operators will generally require the caller's name and location and some information on person that is being called about (level of conciousness, injuries, name if known, chronic medical illnessess if known).
Those trained to perform first aid can act within their expertise, while those who are not do best to remain calm and stay with the person. Crowding is generally unhelpful, unless the presence of others is needed. Evacuating the victim requires special skills, and is generally best left to professionals, unless there is no other alternative (as in wilderness first aid). Self-transport should be to the nearest emergency room.
In the absence of breathing or a palpable heartbeat, artificial respiration and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be immediately required to save the victim's life. Emergency medical technicians or paramedic can use airway management techniques to help a person who is not breathing.
Within hospital settings, an adequate staff is generally present to deal with the average emergency situation. Emergency medicine physicians have training to deal with most medical emergencies, and maintain CPR and ACLS certifications. In disasters or complex emergencies, most hospitals have protocols to summon on-site and off-site staff rapidly.
Both emergency room and inpatient medical emergencies follow the basic protocol of Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Irrespective of the nature of the emergency, adequate blood pressure and oxygenation are required before the cause of the emergency can be eliminated. Possible exceptions include the clamping of arteries in severe hemorrhage.