Barbie Gatton, MD, is the emergency department medical director at SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. She recently shared tips on building first aid kits with members of SIH’s Second Act program during an “Eat and Educate” program, a service provided to community members age 50 and older.

"Everybody needs to have some gauze pads and some Band-Aids, but really the most important thing is that everybody needs to personalize their kit for their medical conditions," Dr. Gatton said.

Diabetics need to have glucose gel. Anybody who has severe allergies should have an EpiPen. People who have heart conditions should have aspirin and nitroglycerin.

The first aid kit needs to be accessible.

"It needs to be where your family spends the most time, so if you're one of those families that spends all your time in the kitchen, that's where your first aid kit needs to be and not where you have to dig
through the garage to find it or the basement to find it," Dr. Gatton said. 

She also recommends refreshing your kit twice a year to ensure you have everything you need should an emergency arise. 

Calling 911 in an Emergency

Calling 911 in an Emergency


It is important to call 911 if you are worried

"We encourage people to call if they feel something is wrong. We would rather have 911 used and not have it be an acute emergency than having that acute emergency be in a car going down the highway and then have detrimental effects to the patient," said EMS Coordinator Brad Robinson. 

He joined Dr. Gatton at the SIH Second Act presentation. He focused on what would happen after a person experienced an emergency and called 911.

"The EMS crew is going to ask a number of questions. We're going to relay that information, but the ED staff, the nurses, and the techs will also ask similar questions. And then when the physician arrives, they may ask similar questions again. So on the way there, I do prep the patient that you're going to be asked similar questions multiple times, but it's in an effort to find out what's wrong and figure out how best to treat you without having adverse effects from treatments, medications, or interventions," Robinson said.

Before the EMS crews arrive Robinson explained there are some things family members can do to help them out. 

  • Have a current list of medications or recent surgeries on hand.
  • Does the patient have any known allergies?
  • Make sure your address/house number is clearly visible from the road (either on your home or mailbox).
  • Unlock the door if possible.
  • Put pets away. (Often, they may not realize medical personal are there to help).
  • There is no need to move furniture.

Why might you have to wait at the emergency room?

"Nobody wants you to have to wait. It's just you also can't predict how many people are gonna have emergencies at the same time. It is not the first person who gets there gets to come back first, it's the person with the most life threatening or potentially life threatening disease is who's gonna come back to the ER first," Dr. Gatton said.


MORE COVERAGE from WSIL NEWS 3: SIH Second Act Focuses On First-Aid Kits And When To Call 911

MORE COVERAGE from WSIU RADIO: SIH presents a program for seniors on the ER process and first aid kits

MORE COVERAGE from The Southern Illinoisan Second Act 911 Series at SIH teaches the essentials of first aid