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What to do in a Medical Emergency

At Atlantic Health System, we understand that it’s not always easy to know when you or one of your loved ones needs emergency care. An emergency can be defined as a severe injury or illness that is threatening to one’s health or might cause permanent harm. They can be both physical and psychological in nature with symptoms that may include:

  • Unconsciousness or lack of response
  • Skin or lips that look blue, purple or gray
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Acting strangely or becoming more withdrawn and less alert
  • Difficulty speaking clearly or garbled speech
  • Weakness, numbness or incoordination on one side of the body
  • Sudden loss of eyesight
  • Rhythmic jerking movements or seizures
  • Neck stiffness or rash with fever
  • Increasing or severe, persistent pain
  • Physical trauma involving the head, chest or abdomen
  • Bleeding from large or deep cuts that does not stop after applying pressure for five minutes
  • Burns that are large or involve the hands, groin or face
  • Head injuries accompanied by a loss of consciousness, confusion, headache or vomiting

Ask your physician in advance what you should do in case of an emergency. You may also want to consider taking a basic life support course at your local hospital or school to help keep you prepared.

In case of an emergency, stay calm and:

  • Call 911 if you need immediate help. If you do not have 911 services in your area, call your local emergency ambulance service or county emergency medical service.
  • Bring any medication you or your loved one is taking to the hospital.
  • If a person is not breathing, have someone who is properly trained start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Call the poison center at once if a person has swallowed a suspected poison or another person’s medication, even if there are no signs or symptoms.
  • Bring any suspected poisons or other medications the person might have taken to the hospital.
  • Place the person on the floor with his or her head turned to the side if he or she is having a seizure. Do not put anything in his or her mouth.
  • Do not move an injured person unless there is immediate danger.
  • Apply continuous pressure to the site of bleeding with a clean cloth.
  • Stay with the patient until help arrives.

Additional Emergency Medicine Resources


Chilton Medical Center

Hackettstown Medical Center

Morristown Medical Center

Newton Medical Center

Overlook Medical Center

Overlook Medical Center – Union Campus

Atlantic Ambulance

Emergency Care During COVID-19

If you are experiencing a serious illness or severe symptoms of any kind, please do not put off seeking emergency medical care due to fears of COVID-19. Delaying emergency medical help could worsen symptoms or result in a life-threatening situation. In the event of a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1.

Patient Transfers

Our Patient Transfer Center is a service offered to hospitals, physicians and family members who wish to transfer a patient to any Atlantic Health System hospital.