Make sure emergency service providers (EMS) in your community know about your child's condition, such as: ambulance, fire, police, and utility companies. Then, in an emergency, EMS providers will be more familiar with your child's health needs. Contact them before an emergency happens.

Tip: Learn CPR, first aid, and other procedures that could help your child during an emergency.

Contacting EMS Services in Your Community

  • Your ambulance company may be operated by the fire department or by a private or municipal company.To find the name of the EMS Director or ambulance company, call:

    • the local fire department

    • the local police department

    • the town or city hall

  • Ask what level of EMS (basic or advanced life support) is available.

Basic life support is provided by an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-Basic or EMT-B). EMT-Bs are trained to provide the following care:

  • Assessing a person's condition

  • Providing first aid

  • Giving oxygen

  • Performing heart and lung revival, called CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), which can include the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock the heart back to normal

  • Use epi-pens in case of a severe allergic reaction

  • Change a trach tube for a person that is having trouble breathing

  • Taking a person to the hospital

Advanced life support is provided by an EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic (under the direction of a doctor). In addition to everything an EMT-B can do, they can do the following:

  • Give intravenous (IV) fluids

  • Use AEDs to give lifesaving shocks to a stopped heart

  • Use advanced airway techniques and equipment to help a person who has trouble breathing

  • Give some drugs by mouth or by IV

  • Read heart monitoring equipment, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs)

  • Inserting breathing tubes (endotracheal intubations)

Other Tips

  • Ask your ambulance service if their EMTs have pediatric training and pediatric equipment to perform some of the procedures that your child might need. Ask whether ambulances are staffed by EMT-Basics, paramedics, or both.

  • Call the Regional EMS Council in your area to find other ways to meet your child's needs in an emergency. (See Health Care section of Family TIES Resource Directory for a listing of Regional EMS Councils)

  • Fill out the Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Health Needs. Make copies for all EMS providers.

  • Discuss your child's Emergency Response Plan with EMS. The plan can help prepare EMS providers for the kinds of medical procedures your child may need in an emergency.

Tip: Clearly mark your house or apartment number. Then, EMS can easily find your home, even in the dark. Check in with your community EMS providers at least once a year. Update your child's Emergency Information Form as needed and send them a copy.

Contacting Police and Fire Departments

  • Call your local police and fire departments to give them information about your child's special health care needs. For example, tell them where your child's bedroom is located. Describe the types of life-sustaining medical equipment your child uses. Let them know if your child is verbal or nonverbal, and if your child is able to walk.

Tip: Ask emergency medical services (EMS) about the Disability Indicator Enhanced 911 Program. With this program, a special code will appear on the 911 call-takers screen when 911 is called. The special code will tell EMS that your child will need special help during an emergency.

Contact the Massachusetts Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Board at 781-944-9113 or 781-944-5147 (TTY).

Contacting Utility Companies

  • Call your local utility (electricity) company if your child has specific equipment that requires electricity (such as a ventilator, nebulizer, kangaroo pump, apnea monitor, or refrigerated medication). You can be put on a priority list to restore electricity as soon as possible in case of a power failure.

  • Ask your town's fire department about portable generators. You might need one if your child uses electric equipment. You may also call your child's durable medical equipment (DME) provider or the social work department at the local hospital to learn more about portable generators.

Contacting Public Works and Telephone Companies

  • Call the local Department of Public Works office and your local telephone company. Let them know about your child's special needs.

  • Ask the public works department to put your street on a priority list for snow removal.This can help make sure an ambulance has quick access to your home in an emergency.

  • Ask the telephone company to put you on a priority list.This can help make sure that your phone service will not get completely shut off. Then, you will always be able to call for help if there is an emergency.

Sample letters to community providers are available from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. To access these files, click on the file below:

Contact Information

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02108-4619
800-882-1435 (in MA only) or 617-624-6060
617-624-5992 (TTY)
This information is provided by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Department of Public Health.