When reading my book to elementary students, I like to ask them what they would do in certain emergency situations. I ask questions such as, “What would you do if your kitchen caught on fire?” or, “What would you do if you got in a car wreck and your mommy and daddy are unable to get up?”
The children always answer with a resounding, “Call 911.” We have had the notion instilled in us from a young age that any emergency we encounter, a 911 dispatcher will be there to calm us, guide us, and send help our way.
Sadly, this is not the case. In one year, there are roughly 240 million calls made to 911. The US has approximately 5,899 primary and secondary Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). We rely on the EMS services during motor vehicle accidents, home invasions, fires, and so many more emergencies, yet the chance of the PSAP being able to accurately pinpoint our location is as low as 10%.
Those who live in rural communities face many more challenges. According to statistical analysis of the EMS national database, rural areas wait an average of seven minutes longer than average urban areas. This wait time increases dramatically for communities with one or two ambulances.
In the state of Arkansas, there are over 300 private companies that own the PSAPs. While legislation has been passed that provides training for 911 dispatchers, there are no mandatory training requirements for CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). This means that when you place a call to 911, it is likely that the dispatcher is not trained in how to provide CPR through the phone.
We as family members, as friendly neighbors, and even as simple bystanders have to be ready to act quickly and effectively in the case of an emergency. This is why I have created my platform for my year as Miss Henderson State University, Seconds Save Lives, that focuses on bringing free CPR and first aid classes to rural communities.
Aside from learning the skills, you must have a good first aid kit in your home and in your car. Knowing what you need in your kit and how to use it can be daunting. Kits that include bandages, scissors, tweezers, and ibuprofen are great, but you really need to make sure that you are prepared for more serious emergencies.
I recommend having an emergency blanket, a solar phone charger, a tourniquet, and QuikClot. Make sure to read all instructions before using any equipment.
Emergencies happen when we least expect them, so stay safe and stay prepared!
Learn more about CPR First Aid.