A Parent’s Guide to Handling Medical Crises

Every parent in South Africa faces the possibility of their child needing urgent medical care. Whether it’s a minor injury or a serious illness, knowing how to respond quickly and calmly can make all the difference. 

That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you navigate those stressful moments and ensure your child receives the best possible care. In this post, we’ll share practical tips on handling emergencies, preparing for the unexpected, and finding the emotional support you need. 

We’ll also address some of the unique challenges parents face in South Africa when it comes to accessing medical care. By the end of this guide, you’ll feel more empowered and equipped to handle any medical crisis that comes your way! 

Immediate Action Steps and First Response to a Medical Emergency

When your child is hurt or sick, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But taking swift, decisive action is crucial. Here’s what to do:

#1 – Assess the Situation:

  • Stay calm: Take a deep breath and try to remain composed. Your child needs a steady presence.
  • Check for danger: Ensure the environment is safe before approaching your child.
  • Determine the severity: Is your child conscious and breathing? Are they bleeding heavily? Is there an obvious injury?

#2 – Call for Help:

  • Emergency: If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or has a severe injury, call 112 or activate your EMERGIVAC app for immediate assistance. 
  • Urgent Care: For serious but not life-threatening situations, head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care centre.
  • Doctor’s Advice: If you’re unsure, call your child’s paediatrician or family doctor for guidance.

#3 – Basic First Aid:

While you’re waiting for help to arrive, administer basic first aid if necessary:

  • Bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.
  • Burns: Run cool water over the burn for several minutes.
  • Choking: Perform the Heimlich manoeuvre if your child is old enough.
  • Unconsciousness: If your child is not breathing, start CPR if you are trained.

Are You an EMERGIVAC Member? 

When faced with a medical crisis, follow these steps:

  1. Activate the Medical Panic Button: Open the EMERGIVAC app and press the Medical Panic button. This will instantly alert our 24/7 response team.
  2. Receive Immediate Assistance: Our trained professionals will guide you through the situation, dispatching an ambulance or other emergency services as needed.
  3. Get to the Right Hospital: We’ll coordinate your child’s admission to the nearest private hospital, ensuring they receive the best possible care.
  4. Helicopter Evacuation (If Necessary): If the situation is critical, EMERGIVAC can arrange for a helicopter evacuation to a specialised facility.

With EMERGIVAC, you can rest assured that your child will receive prompt, expert care in an emergency. See our family plan options here

Preparing for Medical Emergencies

While we can’t predict when emergencies will happen, we can take steps to be better prepared. Here’s what you can do:

Emergency Contacts:

Put together a list of essential phone numbers and keep it in a central location (on the fridge, in your phone, etc.). Include:

  • Emergency services (112)
  • Your child’s doctor
  • Poison control
  • Trusted family members or friends
  • Your nearest hospital or urgent care centre

Make sure babysitters, family members, and anyone else who cares for your child has access to the list.

First Aid Kit:

Stock your kit with:

  • Bandages of various sizes
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Instant cold packs
  • Pain relievers (appropriate for children)
  • Antihistamine (for allergic reactions)

Keep your first aid kit easily accessible at home, in your car, and when travelling.

Medical Information:

  • Allergies: Keep a record of your child’s allergies (food, medication, insect stings, etc.).
  • Medications: Note any medications your child is taking, including dosage and frequency.
  • Medical history: Be aware of any chronic conditions or past illnesses your child has had.
  • Emergency card: Consider creating a card with this information to carry with you.

Also be sure to familiarise yourself with the closest medical facilities and their operating hours.

Emotional Support and Staying Calm

A medical emergency isn’t just physically challenging, but also emotionally draining for both you and your child. 

Staying Calm:

  • Breathe: Take slow, deep breaths to regulate your emotions.
  • Focus on the present: Avoid dwelling on worst-case scenarios. Focus on the immediate steps you need to take.
  • Positive self-talk: Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can for your child.
  • Accept help: Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, or medical professionals for support.

Comforting Your Child:

  • Reassurance: Let your child know that you’re there for them and that they’re going to be okay.
  • Honesty: Explain what’s happening in simple terms, appropriate for their age.
  • Physical touch: Hold their hand, hug them, or offer gentle pats on the back.
  • Distraction: If possible, bring along a favourite toy, book, or blanket to help them feel more secure.

EMERGIVAC – Your Partner in Protecting Your Child’s Health

Imagine having a safety net that not only equips you to handle medical emergencies but also acts swiftly to get your child the care they need, regardless of the situation. That’s where EMERGIVAC comes in.

Our comprehensive emergency response service is designed with parents like you in mind. When every second counts, we provide:

  • Immediate Assistance: With the tap of a button on our app, you can summon help for any type of emergency – medical, roadside, or even security-related. Our 24/7 response team ensures you’re never alone.
  • Medical Expertise: Our trained professionals can assess your child’s condition, provide immediate care, and coordinate transport to the most appropriate medical facility.
  • Financial Peace of Mind: We understand that medical emergencies can put a strain on finances. EMERGIVAC covers a wide range of medical expenses within your plan, from ambulance transport and hospital stays to specialist consultations, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Additional Benefits:

EMERGIVAC isn’t just about medical emergencies. We also offer:

  • Roadside Assistance: Vehicle breakdowns are stressful enough without worrying about towing or repairs. We’ve got you covered.
  • Household Assistance: From plumbing disasters to electrical faults, we can help you find qualified professionals to get your home back in order.
  • Emergi-Guard: Instantly request armed response, providing an extra layer of security for your family.

Why EMERGIVAC is a Smart Choice for Parents:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing you have a reliable support system in place for any emergency can alleviate anxiety and help you focus on your child’s well-being.
  • Faster response times: Our direct connection to emergency services means your child gets the help they need as quickly as possible.
  • Financial protection: Unexpected medical bills can be overwhelming. EMERGIVAC helps you manage the financial burden.

When your child’s health is on the line, you want the best possible care without delay. EMERGIVAC gives you the tools, resources, and support you need to navigate any crisis with confidence.

Learn more about how EMERGIVAC can become your family’s safety net.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do first in a medical emergency involving my child?

In a medical emergency, the first steps are crucial:

  1. Stay calm: Take deep breaths and remain composed.
  2. Check for danger: Ensure the environment is safe before approaching your child.
  3. Assess the severity: Check if your child is conscious, breathing, or has any obvious injuries.

2. When should I call emergency services for my child?

Call emergency services (dial 112 in South Africa) if your child is:

  • Unconscious or not breathing.
  • Experiencing severe bleeding.
  • Showing signs of a serious injury or condition.

For serious but non-life-threatening situations, visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

3. How can I prepare for medical emergencies at home?

To prepare for medical emergencies:

  • Create an emergency contacts list: Include numbers for emergency services, your child’s doctor, poison control, and trusted family members.
  • Stock a first aid kit: Include items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and pain relievers.
  • Keep medical information handy: Document allergies, medications, and medical history.

4. What basic first aid should I know for my child?

Basic first aid skills for parents include:

  • Stopping bleeding: Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth.
  • Treating burns: Run cool water over the burn for several minutes.
  • Handling choking: Perform the Heimlich maneuver if your child is old enough.
  • Administering CPR: If trained, start CPR if your child is not breathing.

5. How does EMERGIVAC help in a medical crisis?


  • Instant assistance: Activate the Medical Panic button on the app for immediate help.
  • Expert guidance: Receive instructions from trained professionals.
  • Coordination of care: EMERGIVAC arranges hospital admissions and, if necessary, helicopter evacuations.

6. How can I support my child emotionally during a medical emergency?

To comfort your child:

  • Stay calm: Your composure helps reassure them.
  • Provide reassurance: Let them know they will be okay.
  • Use physical touch: Hold their hand or hug them.
  • Offer distractions: Bring a favorite toy or blanket to provide comfort.


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