A Guide to Assessing & Responding to Emergency Situations

emergency situations

Emergency situations can occur at any time. Basic emergency preparedness is an essential skill for survival. Here’s a guide that walks you through each step of assessing and responding to emergency incidents. This guide focuses more on medical emergencies and crime-related incidents.

Emergency Planning

Emergencies are inevitable, and planning keeps you ahead of the game. While you can’t prepare or plan for everything, you can get ready for emergent situations that happen more frequently. When you prepare mentally, as well as logistically, you increase your ability to help someone, possibly saving their life. Practice and logistical preparation mean that you have the tools you need and the knowledge to assist in most crisis situations. Natural disasters, fires, traffic crashes, and building collapses are just some of the emergency situations you may have to face. Keep basic emergency supplies such as a medical kit and blanket in your car and in your house for a quicker response. 

Don’t Panic if You Find Yourself Near or in an Emergency Situation

Panicking is bad during a crisis. With practice and preparation, you’re less likely to panic because you’ll know how to handle the situation and what to expect. Firefighters certainly don’t panic when the alarm sounds for a fire. They have the right tools and plan regularly. While you may not be a firefighter, you, too, can enter a zen-like state during an emergency. Things will flow smoothly, and you’ll be more help with practice.

Evaluate and Assess

Your body’s natural fight or flight response might kick in, and you may only have a few seconds to assess the situation. Consider your options and do your best to stay calm and collected

  • Should you evacuate the area?
  • Who do you call for help?
  • Should everyone who is involved shelter in place?
  • If you’re inside a building, where are your exits?

See who is on the scene and what they’re doing. Take charge of the scene immediately if anyone is injured or in danger. Some bystanders will completely ignore the incident, assuming someone else will help. This is a psychological response known as the bystander effect. Some people simply become overwhelmed and shut down during emergency situations. You may need to give them explicit instructions and lead them, but, generally, they step up and follow your lead.

Get Help

If you’re too busy assessing the situation and evaluating patient care, give direct orders to people who can get you the help you need. Give specific directions such as “You! Call 911 now. Get help!” Getting bystanders to summon the help you need lets you get back to triage.

Consider the Environment Around You

Always be aware of your surroundings. Yes, essentially, you need eyes in the back of your head. You don’t know who’s a danger to you or the people around you that you’re trying to help. Remember that when you’re stressed or experiencing tunnel vision, you may not be aware of the dangers right next to you. It should seem obvious not to render aid to a person right next to a burning vehicle, but we don’t always think clearly in emergency situations. Look at all the environmental factors affecting the incident scene. Make sure it’s safe to help. Most emergency scenes are unsecured in the early stages. If the emergency involves a building on fire, don’t rush in. If you’re in the roadway, there may be no traffic control if law enforcement hasn’t arrived yet. 

The crisis could involve an active shooting scene. Self-defense is critical in these instances, and you shouldn’t do anything dangerous. You never know if the suspect is still in the area waiting to ambush anyone who attempts to help. Keeping self-defense weapons on hand and in your car and on your person may save you and any victims’ lives.

Fires cause structural instability in buildings, gas leaks can cause hazardous conditions, and vehicle fires are just plain unsafe. Be careful of power lines down at emergency scenes as well. Don’t touch vehicles on fire or try to move electrical lines unless you have the training to do so. If someone is in a burning vehicle, this may be the one time you can move an injured person to save them from perishing in a fire. Just be aware of hazards at the scene and try to get injured people as far away from them as possible. It’s important to save lives, but make sure you don’t become a victim too.

emergency preparedness


Grab your first aid or trauma kit. Check which victim or victims need help the worst. Check their breathing and check for bleeding. Remember the CABs of life support. That’s right. It’s not the ABCs anymore. Instead of checking the airway, breathing, and chest compressions, the American Heart Association changed the sequence to chest compressions, airway, breathing. The change was because chest compressions were often delayed. With compressions first, blood flow gets to the vital organs quicker. Try to stop any bleeding that you can. Look for signs of shock and fractures or broken bones. Access them as well as you can, depending on your safety and the circumstances. Loosen restrictive clothing if it’s interfering with circulation or breathing. If feasible, check for any emergency medical ID bracelets or necklaces that can give more information to first responders.

emergency situation

Don’t give anyone unconscious anything by mouth. They may choke. Don’t move someone with injuries, unless they’re next to a car on fire or near any other hazard. You can make their injuries worse or even paralyze them. Only move them if the hazard is life-threatening. Keep victims quiet and as calm as possible. Try to keep them from moving and keep them warm. If you carry a blanket with you, it can help keep patients from going into shock, which further complicates the emergency. 

Emergency situations can occur anytime and anywhere. Preparation and training provide you with the skills you need to tackle just about anything. Keep calm and remain in control, and you’ll always handle a crisis efficiently and effectively. 


Author’s Bio – Dave Artman is the founder and CEO of The Home Security Superstore. Every month he uses his expertise to produce content focused around the six important areas of personal well being; security, self-defense, surveillance, spy, safety and survival. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and all things outdoors.

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