How to help paramedics help you

DENVER -- Jennifer Cardinale said her brother Vincent became ill on Saturday.

“He could barely get out of bed, he was throwing up several times, he was getting chills," she said.

With more than 2,000 flu cases in Colorado and a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that number is likely to rise, the natural assumption is that Vincent had the flu.

It turns out Vincent’s symptoms were a result of a condition called Serotonin Syndrome, which can also cause fever, diarrhea, chills and headache.

Vincent later received treatment at the hospital and was released a few days later.

Emergency response experts said anyone with flu-like symptoms that are getting worse should go to the hospital or call 911.

"In most cases, patients have the right to make transport decisions for themselves," North Metro Fire Rescue said. "Paramedics may offer suggestions, but ultimately the decision rests with the patient."

It said it's important to remember that you are your best medical advocate.

“The best advice we can give all residents is to listen to what your instincts and body are telling you. No one knows what`s going on with your body better than you do," the department said.

“In the course of calling 911 for any medical emergency, it’s important that our residents understand the process we follow and their rights as a patient. With any emergency medical call, North Metro Fire paramedics follow guidelines laid out by the Denver Metro EMS Medical Directors Prehospital Policies. Our paramedics assess and treat patients and make transport recommendations based on their medical training and what they think could be occurring given the patient’s description of symptoms.

"In most cases, patients have the right to make transport decisions for themselves. Paramedics may offer suggestions, but ultimately the decision rests with the patient. Even when patients opt not to be transported, they are encouraged to call 911 again if their situation worsens. The best advice we can give all residents is to listen to what your instincts and body are telling you. No one knows what’s going on with your body better than you do.

"In any healthcare setting, if you feel something more serious is occurring than the presenting symptoms, voice your concerns to your healthcare provider--whether that’s a paramedic, your primary care physician or any other healthcare provider. If you let paramedics know you want to be transported to the hospital, they will take you. If you refuse transport initially and then change your mind for any reason, call 911 and help will be there to assist you. Medical conditions can change from one moment to another, so don’t ever hesitate to seek the help from a healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen. We are here to help.”