The Importance of the Family Emergency Plan


Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. All opinions are those of the writer. Seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding medical emergencies.

It was 3:00 a.m. and I had terrible upper abdomen pain that radiated to my back. The pain kept getting worse. Worrisome thoughts consumed me.

What if this is serious? Do we call 911 and risk scaring the kids as an ambulance arrives? Do we wake the children from a deep sleep and have the entire family drop me off at the emergency room?

We were awake in the middle of the night with an unexpected health emergency without a family emergency plan. 

My Medical Emergency

When faced with an emergency, quick decisions must be made. It is hard to think clearly when you are hunched over in pain. A family emergency plan can help make decisions easier.

This particular night, I ended up driving myself to the hospital while my husband stayed home with the kids. We were unsure who to call in the middle of the night. Since I arrived alone, I was left to the mercy of the doctors.

Within a few hours of arriving to the emergency room, I ended up having surgery to remove my gallbladder. This traumatic experience left me to believe that if we had a written or verbal family emergency plan, we could have made more confident decisions. An emergency plan would have allowed me to have shared my medical wishes more clearly.  Instead, I was uncertain and vulnerable as I laid alone in pain on a hospital bed.

The Family Emergency Plan

How many of us actually have written plans for those unexpected family emergencies? Oftentimes we create birth plans, even though we are aware things don’t always go as planned. Having a written plan gives us a sense of control. It helps us feel more prepared. 

In the event of a family emergency, we don’t have time to think about all our options. First, we must act quickly. If we have our medical wishes written down, we have a sense of control over the emergency situation. A written plan allows our voice to be heard. 

Just as with childbirth, most medical emergencies will likely never go as planned, but having a plan in place provides us with direction. We don’t know the future, but we can be more aware of our options in case of an emergency. This will allow us to make clearer decisions.

Family Emergency Discussions

Sitting down and discussing an emergency plan with our partners can help us to be better prepared in case of an emergency. The discussion questions below have answers to the decisions we will all make in the event of a medical emergency. Simply discussing which hospital we prefer and who we can call in the middle of the night will help eliminate having to discuss these under pressure.   

  • Who can we call in a medical emergency? 
  • Who can we ask to watch the kids?
  • What are our hospital choices, and what hospital would we prefer?  
  • What is our preferred form of transportation to the hospital?
  • Who can make medical decisions for me?
  • In the event of needing emergency surgery, what are my wishes?
  • Who should the medical staff call to share my health status?
  • Who are my current medical doctors?
  • What allergies do I have?
  • Current medical status summarized for doctors. 
  • What medical procedures do I wish to not receive?
  • Who can I call to be with me in the event of an emergency?

Having medical emergency discussions are not fun, but they are important. The more we familiarize ourselves with our family emergency plans, the more prepared we will be. Do you have a family medical emergency plan? What is in your plan?

Read how Lindsay is helping her children know what to do in the event of a medical emergency.


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