If you are in a business where emergencies tend to arise for your customers or patients, the chances are that you have sought out an answering service to assist with those essential phone calls. The medical, dental, legal, plumbing and air conditioning, and home repair industries all have what they would consider emergencies. The last thing any professional within one of these industries would want would be to miss an emergency call from a customer or patient.
However, sometimes it can be challenging to delineate between a real emergency and something that can wait for a later time. One of the best things that a business can do is make sure that their website is updated with easy-to-find information on what is deemed an emergency and what to do when those situations arise. Another essential strategy is to ensure that your answering service is well equipped to route emergency calls appropriately and help deescalate calls and take messages during those less urgent situations.
What is Considered a Medical Emergency?
The medical field probably comes to mind more than anything when they think of emergencies. And it is true; medical emergencies are ones that, if not treated away, can result in serious harm to you or a loved one. Though answering service professionals can help dispatch and route emergency medical calls on behalf of their medical answering service clients, the following emergencies are considered life-threatening. They warrant a drive to the nearest emergency room or a direct call to 911 instead of directly to the medical provider.
- Gunshot or knife wounds
- Heart attack
- Imminent threat to life or loss of life due to a psychiatric illness, mental health concern, or substance use
- Pregnancy complications including severe nausea or vomiting, fever, severe abdominal pain, decreased fetal movement, vaginal bleeding, and suspected ruptured membranes
- Severe bleeding
- Severe breathing problem
- Severe burns
If you can, contact your primary care physician in non-urgent situations and emergency services in those that require immediate attention. Medical answering service representatives are not medical professionals and cannot diagnose a medical concern over the phone. Further, suppose an answering service representative suspects one of the above issues or anything else that sounds like it could be a medical emergency. In that case, the default response will be to route the call to 911 for emergency ambulance assistance.
What is Considered a Dental Emergency?
Various dental situations can and should be considered an emergency. Though some problems can usually wait until a dental clinic reopens the next business day, the following conditions can indicate the need for a trip to the nearest emergency room or emergency dentist.
- Severe pain including oral bleeding
- Tooth loss in adults
- Loose teeth in adults – adults, as a general rule, are not supposed to lose teeth, and thus a loose tooth can be an indicator of a serious problem requiring immediate dental or medical attention
- Tooth infection – An abscess or infection in your mouth can be an indicator of a life-threatening condition – untreated abscesses can cause an infection that can spread quickly elsewhere into the body
Primarily, any dental concern that requires immediate treatment to alleviate severe pain, stop bleeding, or stop the loss of a tooth should be considered a dental emergency. Dentists should ensure that all patients have information readily available to determine a dental emergency and what is not. When working with a dental answering service, call answering representatives should be trained to ask questions to identify if a patient should be referred for emergency medical or dental care.
What is Considered a Legal Emergency?
Legal emergencies are a little bit harder to define, and in most cases, something that would be considered a legal emergency can be temporarily handled by local law enforcement. However, there are indeed some situations where it might be necessary to reach out to an attorney and have that attorney get on your case quickly, both literally and figuratively. Trained legal answering service representatives can often assist callers in identifying emergencies or items that can wait until the next business day.
Common examples of legal emergencies include:
- Car accidents where fault and placement of blame is in question or where accident scene investigation is required
- Child custody situations
- Deportation situations
- Getting arrested and where a bail bond agent will not suffice
- Property damage events where the situation, if not mitigated, will cause extensive damage to or loss of personal property that can result in monetary impact
What is Considered a Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, or Home Electrical Emergency?
When it comes to plumbing emergencies, there are times where you need help, fast. Though a loud heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system can be annoying or a non-functional electrical outlet can be frustrating, these types of situations can usually be postponed until the next business day so that an emergency service fee can be avoided. The truth is, there are situations where immediate service is needed, and homeowners must know the difference.
Trained HVAC and plumbing answering service representatives can help callers identify an emergency and what is not. Though this list is far from exhaustive, homeowners should immediately call their local plumber or HVAC repair technician’s emergency line in the following situations.
- An overflowing toilet that will not stop running – If your toilet is overflowing or if you do not know how to turn off the water supply in your home. If you do know how to turn off the water supply in your home, be sure to do this immediately to prevent further damage.
- Furnace failure – If your home is not correctly heating, especially during the winter months, you will need to contact an emergency HVAC technician to correct the problem. Going without heat is not only uncomfortable but can lead to health risks.
- Burst pipes – This is more common during the winter months when low temperatures test the age and design of underground or in-home pipes.
- Sump pump failure – Though this is rare, it does happen. If you have had heavy rainfall and your sump pump isn’t working correctly, your home can be subject to water damage. When these situations aren’t treated promptly, it can lead to contamination in your home from mold and mildew.
- Power outage – If your home has lost power and you can’t identify an obvious solution from your electrical panel, the chances are that you need to contact an emergency electrician. Electrical service answering representatives will often suggest that you contact the company’s emergency line in these situations or will help connect you to the company’s paging service.
- Broken water heater – If your water heater is making loud noises such as a bubbling or dripping sound, it might mean that there is a link in the main tank. A louder gurgling or clanking sound can mean that minerals have built up in the tank and require professional draining and cleaning of the water tank.
- Washing machine hose leak – If you see dripping or water pooling under your washing machine, it can indicate a leak in the hose or become unattached from the central unit. Water damage can spread quite quickly in these places, and thus it is essential to have a professional plumber assess your situation as soon as you see a problem.
- Ice maker hose leak – Like with a washing machine, if you see dripping water or pooling of water, be sure to turn off the water connection and call a plumber.
What is Considered a Home Repair Emergency?
In most cases, the situations that we listed as plumbing and HVAC emergencies will eventually lead to home repair. By catching those above items quickly, you can mitigate costly maintenance and make for a more straightforward home repair process. However, there are a few other situations where you might need an emergency handyman or home repair professional.
- Broken window
- Broken door lock so that an exterior door lock leading into your home will not properly latch
- Power outage
- Confirmed rodent or insect infestation
- Ceiling leak