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When to Call 911

When Do I Need an Ambulance?


For some emergencies, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. Other health conditions, even if they require urgent treatment, do not require an ambulance. Use the lists below as general guidelines; when in doubt, call 911!


Emergencies Requiring an Ambulance


Call 911 immediately for any serious condition. Don't take a chance with anything life-threatening, including:

  • Allergic Reaction – systemic reaction

  • Altered mental status / sudden, sustained confusion

  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure

  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness

  • Heart attack

  • Insect bites – systemic reaction

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Moderate to severe difficulty breathing

  • Other major injury

  • Poisoning—only if accompanied by other serious symptoms

  • Seizure

  • Severe bleeding or head injury

  • Stroke/TIA (transient ischemic attack)

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision

  • Sudden profound weakness

  • Sudden profuse sweating at rest

  • Suicidal feelings

  • Trouble speaking or understanding

  • Vomiting or diarrhea of extended duration or where blood is present

For children, call 911 immediately for any serious problem. Symptoms that are serious for a child may not be as serious for an adult. In particular, call 911 immediately if:

  • Your child is having any difficulty breathing, for example: breathing faster than normal; child looks paler than usual or has whitish or bluish lips; child is coughing excessively, choking or breathing irregularly.

  • If your child has any injury where you think a bone may be broken or there is a wound that may need stitches.

  • Your child is vomiting following an injury.

  • Your child has diarrhea, vomiting AND has: No tears; Very dry mouth; Not urinating at least 2-3 times over the last 24 hours.

  • Your child is under 3 months of age and has a fever over 38° C or 100.4° F.

  • Your child has a fever and is difficult to wake up or is very sleepy.

  • If your child develops a rash that does not turn white when you push on it.

Health Conditions that May Not Require an Ambulance

  • Allergic reactions – localized reaction

  • Animal bites – mild to moderate

  • Back pain

  • Burns – mild to moderate

  • Chronic (ongoing) aches and pain

  • Coughing, colds, severe sore throat

  • Cuts, scrapes, bruises

  • Dental pain

  • Difficulty breathing - Mild

  • Ear pain / infections

  • Eye irritation

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms

  • Insect bites – localized reaction

  • Migraine headache

  • Rash or other skin irritations

  • Skin rashes

  • Small bone fractures (toe, foot, finger)

  • Sprains and strains

  • Urinary burning

  • Vomiting or diarrhea of short duration

UNH Students: you may be able to go to UNH Health Services for these health conditions.

Remember—when in doubt call 911 and request an ambulance. Do not call 911 for non-emergency transportation, use taxi cabs or call a private ambulance listed below or under “Ambulance” in your local telephone directory.



Calling 911


What number should I call?


Call 911. While older numbers may still work, calling 911 helps ensure a rapid response with the correct resources.


What information should I bring with me to the hospital?

  • List of Medications and Allergies (McGregor has a form that you can print out and attach to your refrigerator)

  • Immunization History

  • Advanced Directives

  • Do Not Resuscitate Order

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

  • Living Will

  • Insurance Information

Will going by ambulance ensure that I am seen more rapidly at the hospital?


No. If you call 911 with a minor problem, the triage process at the hospital will prioritize your problem as a low priority regardless of whether you arrive by ambulance or private transportation. Also, for a minor problem you may be able to be seen more rapidly at a walk-in clinic or urgent-care facility. Your family doctor is the most important person to discuss less-than-urgent matters with, and he or she can often speed the processes up if there is a genuine reason to do so.


What should I do if I need to get to the hospital, but I don’t have a car or someone to drive me?


Do not call 911 for non-emergency transportation, use taxi cabs or call a private ambulance listed below or under “Ambulance” in your local telephone directory.

Care Plus

1 800-899-8331


1 877-244-4890

American Ambulance  

1 603-480-5600


UNH Students: For conditions that are not emergencies but you are not sure treatment can wait until UNH Health Services is open, call UNH Health Services (862-1530) and press 2. You will be automatically connected to the Emergency Room (ER) at WDH where a nurse will conduct a phone assessment, and make suggestions for additional care options, including a possible visit to the ER. Note: this service is available only when school is in session. Additional information is available at UNH Health Services.

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