Medical Emergencies

Medical Emergencies

Utilizing Emergency Medical Services


The intense focus on COVID-19 leaves many wondering how to handle medical emergencies unrelated to the virus. Some people worry that a call to 911 or a visit to the emergency department will expose them to COVID-19. Others avoid seeking emergency care out of concern for stress on the health care system.


However, says Jeff Dostalek., Deputy Chief with Fitch Rona EMS, medical emergencies haven’t stopped for COVID-19. And treatment for these emergencies should not be delayed. “This is especially true for people experiencing stroke or heart attack symptoms,” says Dostalek. “Delaying treatment for either can be life-threatening or lead to more serious lifelong health problems.”  When to seek emergency care medical emergencies aren’t always easy to identify. While physical injuries — like severe cuts, burns or broken bones — are obvious, stroke and heart attack symptoms can be confused with other less serious conditions. Don’t hesitate to seek emergency care and call 911 if you experience the following:


Chest pain, pressure or tightness

Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

Confusion or change in mental state

Numbness or weakness on one side

Slurred speech

Sudden speech changes

Sudden trouble walking, loss of balance

Sudden vision changes

Severe stomach pain


First responders and hospitals want to protect you and their teams. Additional precautions have
been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in emergency care settings. Suspected
COVID-19 patients are kept in rooms isolated from other patients. If you or a loved one need
emergency care, you can expect the following:


Added personal protective equipment: First responders and emergency department staff will wear additional PPE, including face masks or shields.  PPE prevents the spread of COVID-19. If you are receiving care, you may also be given a face mask.


Adjusted visitation policies: Many hospitals — including hospitals across Madison— have implemented no-visitor policies.


COVID-19 screening: Medical facilities, are screening patients for COVID-19 before they are allowed to enter the facility. Screening helps health care teams to plan your care. Prioritize your health “Preventing the spread of COVID-19 should be a priority, but it shouldn’t take priority over your health,” reminds Deputy Chief Dostalek. “Don’t delay treatment for a medical emergency.”


Jeff Dostalek, Deputy Chief
Fitch Rona EMS District