The 411 on 911  
  How to make sure your child gets the best possible medical attention in an emergency.  

New York City’s 33 pediatric emergency rooms are staffed with doctors who are double board-certified (in pediatrics and emergency medicine); they’re equipped with kid-size materials; and their child-friendly waiting rooms often have specialists on hand trained to put your child at ease.

Know which pediatric ER is closest to your home. Remember that if it doesn’t have a pediatric intensive-care unit, your child runs the risk of being transferred to another hospital.

Go straight to the ER if your child is having trouble breathing, is vomiting repeatedly, is bleeding profusely, is injured in the neck or spine, has swallowed something suspicious, or is badly burned. Call 911 for help.

Keep the phone numbers of your pediatrician and the pediatric ER handy. Call the pediatrician before heading to the ER. If you can’t reach your doctor, call the ER. It will give them time to prepare for your arrival.

Be cooperative, but not passive. If you think your child is not getting sufficient care, speak up. You have a right to know if the doctor is a first-year resident, a pediatrician, or a double board-certified specialist. If you don’t feel comfortable, request a different doctor.

From the Fall 2003 edition of the New York Family Guide