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What to do?

In the event of a medical emergency, calling 911 should typically be the first priority.

When to Call 911?

Common Types of Emergencies

If you would like to know more about your emergency service system in Harnett County such as local policies, procedures, and protocols, you can click the link below. 


*If you feel like a situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately!*

Heart Attack

Coronary artery disease remains the number one cause of death in America. Calling 9-1-1 should be the first action taken for someone who suspects they may be having a heart attack.


The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain. This is often described as heaviness, pressure or tightness. It may also radiate to another part of the body such as the shoulders, neck or jaw.


Although chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, not all heart attacks present with chest pain. This is more likely to be true for women, geriatrics and diabetics. Other symptoms may be described as abdominal pressure, indigestion or shortness of breath. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all so having a doctor evaluate your risk factor for a heart attack is important. 


Oftentimes, a person experiencing a heart attack may be in a state of denial and resist help. Thus, when in doubt, be persistent and call 9-1-1 regardless.



A stroke is caused by an interruption of blood flow to an area of the brain. This is caused either by a clot that restricts blood flow or bleeding from a blood vessel within the brain.


The onset of a stroke can happen suddenly and without prior symptoms or warning. Most commonly, a stroke will present with abnormal difficulty moving part of the body and will generally be experienced on one side only. Other symptoms may include drooping on one side of the face or mouth and/or difficulty forming words.


Anytime someone experiences any of these symptoms, 9-1-1 should be called immediately. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will resolve on their own. This is because drugs used to treat a stroke are most effective when administered as early as possible. In fact, some treatments are no longer optional after just a couple of hours following symptom onset.



Dehydration represents an excessive loss of water at the cellular level. This is most commonly due to fluid lost from the body due to prolonged vomiting or diarrhea but may also be caused by factors such as excessive use of diuretics (water pills).


The amount of vomiting or diarrhea required to produce dehydration varies but is normally related to a person’s body mass. Thus, infants can tolerate less fluid loss than adults before becoming dehydrated. The same is true for emaciated adults versus adults of normal stature.


True dehydration is not resolved by merely consuming water as it is typically accompanied by an electrolyte imbalance. Treatment should be monitored in a hospital setting as laboratory tests need to be monitored to determine electrolyte levels, some of which are important to the heart and vital organs.


Another danger of dehydration is to the kidneys and, left untreated, can result in poor kidney output or even failure.

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