What to do in a health emergency

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First, do not to panic.
Act quickly, but calmly. It is always better to be prepared.
This guide will help you prepare for a health emergency:

What are emergencies?

  • Heart attack
  • Major trauma (physical injury)
  • Severe head injury
  • Amputation
  • Severe difficulty in breathing (due to an allergic reaction or other cause)
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe bleeding

Urgent health conditions:

  • Head injury but still awake
  • Deep cut
  • Foreign object in eyes, ears
  • High fever in an infant or toddler
  • Chest pain not related to a known heart problem
  • Signs of serious infection


  1. Call 9-1-1.
  2. Those with hearing loss or speech difficulties may text 9-1-1 (you need to register and have an active text messaging plan).
  3. If your community does not have 9-1-1, check the front page of your phone directory for emergency numbers.
  4. Bring the patient to a hospital if he can be moved.
  5. When you call 9-1-1:
    • Ask for interpreter services if you cannot speak in English.
    • Give your name and exact address.
    • If you live in an apartment building, give your apartment letter and/or number.
    • Give the details of the situation.
      • What happened?
      • Who is sick or injured?
      • When did it happen or start?
  6. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions. Do not hang up until he or she says so.
  7. Wait until help arrives.
    • Stay calm.
    • Keep the patient comfortable
    • Do not move the patient if there is a bone or neck injury.


  1. Call:
  2. A nurse will help you decide.
  3. Choose “language translation” if you cannot speak English.
  4. This is better than going straight to 9-1-1 (unless you are sure that it is an urgent medical situation). It saves you from an unnecessary expense.
  5. The use of an ambulance is not free. It costs around $250 (see current fees here).


  1. For problems such as:
    • possible fracture/sprain
    • back pain
    • stomach pain
    • skin/wound infection
    • mild or chronic headaches (migraines)
    • minor cuts or burns
    • colds
    • sore throat or sinus problems


  2. Hospitals in Manitoba, like St. Boniface Hospital, have free interpreter services.
  3. If you need help to prepare for a medical appointment, visit your nearest immigrant-serving organization or Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement worker.
  4. Go to Myrightcare.ca for a summary of your options in Winnipeg.


  1. Teach your children how to dial 9-1-1. Tell them that it is for emergency use ONLY.
  2. Post emergency numbers near the phone (or post on the door of your fridge).
  3. Get an E.R.I.K. Put it on your fridge door.
  4. Download Winnipeg’s Health Services Directory.
  5. Go to Canada.ca’s Get Prepared. Read the emergency preparedness guide.
  6. Download Your Emergency Preparedness Guide.
  7. Get emergency first aid and CPR training.
  8. Ask about first aid training from:

Article updated on 02/2020.

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Community Resources

Check out the WRHA “Know where to go” poster for a quick guide.

Stay up-to-date about health issues and changes in our health care system. Go to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

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