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Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island - Canada

Medical Emergencies

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A medical emergency is a situation when a person needs urgent medical assistance, and there is no time to wait for an appointment with a family doctor or nurse practitioner, or to wait for a walk-in clinic to open.

Here is what the PEI Department of Health and Wellness says about emergency medical situations:

When requiring medical care, it is important for the public to know how and where to access care for a medical condition during urgent and non-urgent situations.

The public should seek immediate medical care at an emergency department when:

  • experiencing discomfort or tightness in the chest;
  • experiencing unusual shortness of breath;
  • experiencing abdominal pain;
  • experiencing prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness;
  • an injury may require stitches or involve a broken bone;
  • a child has prolonged diarrhea or vomiting; or
  • a baby under the age of six months has a fever of 38°C (100.4 F) or higher.

If uncertain, the public should call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department when experiencing a medical emergency.

In non-urgent situations, the public is encouraged to seek medical care at their family physician's office or at a walk-in clinic to avoid potential lengthy wait times that may occur at an emergency department. [...]

[Source: PEI Department of Health and Wellness News Release - July 27th, 2010]

Emergency Services, '911' and Ambulance Services

  • If your medical situation is fairly urgent, but not too serious, do not go to an emergency clinic, but rather to a walk-in clinic. In an emergency clinic patients are treated based on the urgency of their situation, and you may end up waiting for a long time.
  • It does not cost money to call '911' from your home phone or cell phone or from a pay phone.
  • If you are a resident of PEI and you use the ambulance service, you have to pay a user fee of $150, unless you have additional private medical insurance. The fee for non-residents is $600. Senior citizens (people 65 years of age and over) who are residents of PEI do not pay the fee for ambulance services.
  • Remember to keep your PEI health card on your person at all times. You will need it to access any doctors, clinics, or hospital services in PEI.

On the Island emergency clinics are located in hospitals. If you have an urgent but non-life threatening medical situation, go to the emergency clinic at the hospital closest to you. [See Related Resources]

If you, or someone near you, seem to have life-threatening symptoms, call '911' immediately and request an ambulance.

The company providing ambulance services in PEI under a long-term contract is 'Island EMS'.

When you call '911' you need to do your best to:

  • stay calm and speak clearly
  • tell the '911' dispatcher what is happening
  • say what you need - ambulance, fire fighters, or police
  • know the location of the emergency
  • know the phone number from which you are calling
  • listen to the '911' dispatcher's questions and answer clearly
  • follow all directions given to you by the '911' dispatcher and ask for clarification if you don't understand
  • do not hang up the call until directed to do so by the '911' dispatcher

If a person's medical situation is urgent and serious, and there are no doctors or services in PEI to help, air ambulance services are available to take the person by helicopter to the nearest hospital in the region with appropriate equipment and experts.