In An Emergency

How to be prepared if you think it’s an emergency

In An Emergency

Is it a medical emergency?Call 9-1-1 or go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department if you have been in a major accident or are experiencing:

  • Trouble breathing, or catching your breath
  • Severe abdominal or chest pain/pressure
  • Weakness or tingling on one side of your body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy bleeding 

If possible, bring photo ID, your BC Services Card or CareCard and a list of any medications you are taking. Remember, wait times can vary depending on time, location and your level of need. Emergency and life-threatened patients will always be seen first.

Many of VCH’s hospital sites provide 24-hour emergency services, however operating hours may vary in rural communities. Call 8-1-1 to verify hours of operation for emergency services in rural areas.

Visit our Emergency Phone Numbers page to find more specific contact information for physical and mental health resources.

Consider an urgent care centre for minor emergenciesIf you live in the Vancouver area, the Urgent Care Centre at UBC Hospital is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and is staffed with emergency-trained doctors and nurses to handle minor medical emergencies that don’t require admission to hospital, such as broken bones, fevers, minor burns and eye problems. 
Not sure if it’s an emergency?Call 8-1-1 (7-1-1 for hearing-impaired), to access HealthLink BC. This free, 24-hour non-emergency multi-lingual telephone service is staffed by trained registered nurses, pharmacists and dieticians who can help answer your health-related questions and help you find your nearest family doctor or walk-in clinic
What to expect at the Emergency Department

  • An emergency room triage nurse will see you when you arrive and ask you about your symptoms and check your vital signs. Have your photo ID, BC Services Card or CareCard and a list of your current medications ready for the nurse.
  • People are seen in the emergency department based on how hurt or sick they are. This means the sickest people are seen first even if you arrived before them.
  • Know that your medical records from your family doctor are not available at the Emergency Department. Emergency doctors only have information about your medical history from previous visits to that hospital.
  • Emergency Department employees are committed to providing the best quality health care they can. We ask for your patience as you wait for test results, interpretations, consultations and other information to help us diagnose and care for you.

Going home from the Emergency Department

  • Your health care team will work with you to help plan when you will go home. 
  • Your doctor may write you a prescription for medication and a nurse will give you instructions on how to take the medication.
  • Try to arrange a family member or friend to drive or accompany you home.
  • Your health care team will work with you to coordinate any additional care that is required such as home care, care at another hospital or rehab services.

Home is Best 

Our philosophy is that home is the best place to be when you’re recovering from sickness or injury. Your health care team will help you access any additional care you may need in your community so you can return to the comfort of your own home as soon as it’s safe to do so. 

Watch our series of “Home is Best” videos to learn more.

Photo credit: Lark Productions