Updated 17 November 2015

How to handle a medical emergency these holidays

With 1 147 fatal road accidents in South Africa during the last festive season, travellers need to know what to do in case of an emergency these holidays.

The festive season is around the corner, and although we're all eager to shut down, it is critical to ensure that we are prepared for medical emergencies before we get away from it all, says the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA).  

The holiday season in South Africa involves a lot of driving for many people, and with 1 147 fatal road accidents recorded nationally in December 2014, travellers need to anticipate and be ready for emergency situations.

Sunblock, passports and loads of water seem to top the list of checks for many travellers but proper medical cover and knowing what to do in case of an emergency are key.

Read: Health tips for the holidays

“Travellers need to check and be sure what they are covered for under their medical aid plans to avoid large co-payment surprises,” warns SASA CEO Natalie Zimmelman.

Being informed about your medical plan cover and knowing your prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) is vital when planning any holiday trip. The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has compiled a full list of the conditions covered under PMBs.

Health check list for travellers

Because emergencies happen so quickly, people often panic and don't know what to do in a medical crisis.

The Trauma Society of South Africa’s Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) programme has come up with the mnemonic acronym AMPLE to help remind travellers what to declare to medical professionals when reporting a medical emergency.

Remember AMPLE in medical crisis:

* A = allergies
* M = medication, including vitamins and herbal medicines
* P = past surgery and medical conditions/illnesses
* L = last time of meal and drink
* E = events surrounding the reason for surgery

Preparing this information before going on holiday will help get the best care to patients in time of emergency, as well as ensure that the family is prepared for any eventuality. This holiday, arm your family with AMPLE information, kick back and relax.

“The best way to enjoy your holiday is to be safe and be prepared,” emphasises Zimmelman.  

Sources: SASA

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