Nobody likes to plan for medical emergencies, but when you dial 911, you want help ASAP. However, unexpected obstacles can slow things down. So, here are a few things Emergency Medical Technicians wish you knew:

  • #1: Flickering lights help them find you faster. House numbers are hard to find, especially at night. EMT Shauna Rodriguez recommends telling the 911 dispatcher that you’ll be using a light signal so emergency personnel will know to look for it. You can even get an emergency flashing light switch that’ll do it automatically at

  • Another emergency tip: Pets can cause a dangerous delay, even FRIENDLY ones. Paramedic Rod Brouhard remembers when he and his partner were trying to carry a patient down the stairs, and a tiny dog that wanted to play kept running between their legs. In fact, many paramedics won’t even enter your house if you have pets running around loose.  So, if possible, have a family member lock up your dog before paramedics arrive.

  • One final thing Paramedics wish you knew: Tailing an ambulance slows them down. Paramedic Brouhard remembers transporting one man to the hospital. But the man’s anxious brother was following so closely on the freeway, there was less than a car’s length between them. And since ambulances often have to stop suddenly as they maneuver though traffic, the driver was worried about a collision. So, they slowed down, and a 10-minute trip turned into a 20-minute one. The advice: Let the paramedics race your loved one to the hospital, and follow at a normal speed.