Family Parenting

Do You Know How To Get To The Emergency Room?


When my nephew was 18-months old, he fell down a flight of stairs. Landing with a thwack on the hard brown tiles, he knocked himself out cold. Hearing the awful sound, my brother-in-law ran to find his youngest son, Alec, unconscious at the base of the stairs. Imagine finding your child floppy and unresponsive. Thinking fast, my brother-in-law made one quick phone call, picked up Alec’s limp body, and grabbed his car keys.

“I’m taking your brother to the hospital,” he shouted to his older son, Max. “Grandma is on the way.”

Just 4-years-old at the time, Max paused the two-person video game he had been playing with his father and hurried to the mudroom door.

“Dad?” Max furrowed his brow with concern. “Can I play your guy?”

Standing in the hallway by the garage with Alec cradled in his arms, my brother-in-law conceded: “Yes, Max. You can play my guy.”

Then my brother-in-law drove to the hospital.

A radiologist, he knew exactly where he was going.

Because he drove to the hospital every single day.

I hadn’t thought about that story in years.

Until the other day.

One of my roomies from BlissDom, Greta Funk (aka: Gfunkified), posted a photo on Instagram.


Apparently, her little guy fell down and went boom.

We all know head wounds bleed a lot, yes?

As it turns out, Erv needed three stitches on his noggin.

And because it was their first trip to the emergency room, Greta had no idea where to go.


That got me thinking.

If something happened around these parts, what would I do?

Rochester is a small city; you’d think I’d know how to get around after living here for over a decade. However, I haven’t had to make a trip to the you-know-where.

*knock on wood.*

When I saw Greta’s photo, I tried to picture how to get to our nearest hospital, but I couldn’t visualize the best route.

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to find out.

After consulting Google Maps, I now know I live 8.8 miles from the nearest hospital.


It will take me 18 minutes to get there if I take the Expressway.

Twenty-one minutes if I choose to take city streets.

When you’re in panic mode, that isn’t the best time to tap information into your navigational app.

If you are directionally challenged like I am, you might want to do what I did and print out a copy of the instructions and stick them in the glove compartment of your car. Or pre-program the address for your preferred hospital into your GPS or phone. Make it a favorite.

Just in case.

Fingers crossed, you’ll never need to drive anyone to the emergency room, but if you do, at least you’ll know where the heck you are heading.

Everything turned out fine with Greta’s son. His bandages were removed, and he’s down to bump and a Band-Aid.

Look at that face!

My nephew was fine, too.

No concussion. No repeat episodes. Alec is in college now.

And what of his older brother? Max is in medical school.

He still loves video games. But not more than his brother.

What kinds of mishaps have brought you to the ER? And did you know where you were going?

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48 thoughts on “Do You Know How To Get To The Emergency Room?

  1. I had to go to the emergency room in Breckenridge and we debated on how far to drive. We settled on the clinic next to the grocery store. I often wonder if we shouldn’t have driven the extra couple miles.
    Glad he’s okay. Emergency rooms are like fire exits from the upstairs bedrooms. Figure them out before you need them.

      1. Just knock on wood!
        I just about demoed myself last weekend when skiing down a head wall. I hit some ice and my skis flew out in front of me. I kept expecting some horrible pain as I was out of control. Somehow I used every muscle in my body to right myself before I hit the trees! Man, did I feel it for days afterward. Lot’s of pulled muscles…

  2. Great post! In an emergency is when some times we don’t think, and if you already have directions of how to get to the emergency room or programmed it in your GPS, that is always a good thing. Glad everyone is ok! And, glad they still like their video games too! Phew!

    1. I think people assume that EVERYONE has a SmartPhone or a GPS, but not everyone does. That said, it’s extra important to take a dry run to really figure out WHICH hospital is the preferred hospital. And where exactly is the entrance to the ER. Some hospitals are huge, and those entrances are hard to find!

    1. Egg-zactkly. We leave people in charge of our kids, but sometimes we need to communicate WHICH hospital we’d like them to go to in case if emergency. Maybe have them do a dry run to find the actual entrance to the ER. Just in case. 😉

  3. Great story about your nephew – yikes! My worst nightmare. As you know, I now know clearly where every ER in a 30 mile radius is located. And I’m partial to 911 ;-). But, prior to our mishaps, I only had a vague idea of their direction and location. GREAT idea to know in advance how to get to an ER. And could Greta’s little one be any cuter? Happy he’s okay. xo

  4. For some reason, I kept recalling that scene from “Down and Out In Beverly Hills” when faced with an emergency, Richard Dreyfus runs through the house carrying a cordless phone yelling for someone to call 9-1-1.

    As for the real ER, I’ve been to too many of them over the years not to know the way by heart. The trick is figuring out which one to go to, as there are at least a dozen of them within 10-12 miles.

    1. We have several to choose from, too. I didn’t know that Hubby wants to go to one hospital for certain things, but he feels another hospital is better to treat other ailments, especially pediatrics. See? Confusing – and with the conversation. By the way, I love that movie. Is it wrong that I suddenly feel like reenacting the scene? 😉

      1. We’re all in healthcare, so we have strong feelings of which hospitals we’d go to for which family members, and which hospitals we’d avoid at all costs. Even so, there’s a good chance that some situation will eventually arise which we hadn’t considered, and then we’ll just have to go to the closest one.

  5. This is a very useful blog. Tomorrow I am going to find the quickest route to the hospital. I will then put the directions in my glove compartment in my car. Thanks for sharing this good advice.

    1. Sometimes we rely on other people to be our drivers, but it’s a good idea to know WHICH hospital and HOW to get there in case that person isn’t there. Of course, there is always an ambulance if you are really in trouble…

  6. Three kids, yeah we do know where the emergency room is, and they recognized us for many years, scary! Blood doesn’t freak me out, and sometimes they ask me if I’m a doctor based on my triage or appropriate bandage, but I say, “No, just a mom”! Here’s a picture of my oldest who is now doing Peace Corps Panama. He caught a virus, split his head open like your friends little guy (3 stitches) and then got knocked out landing on his face playing soccer, within a 2 week span. Here’s his blog (with pics) about the first two,

  7. Oh, so scary! Since my husband works in a hospital, I definitely know how to get there, and it is a mercifully short drive (15 minutes if there’s no traffic). We drove there when my middle son fell out of a Power Wheels Escalade (it was a gift) right into the corner of a brick. He didn’t lose consciousness, thank G-d, but he did require a staple. A couple months later, we drove to the same hospital to deliver my daughter. I’ve even driven there to deliver a forgotten lunch to my husband (awwww, I know).

    Anyways, this is a great post, Renee, very practical and important. And I’m glad both the little boys in the post were okay in the end.

    1. I know I wrote this with children in mind, but it is also practical for those with aging parents. Or anyone, really. I often depend on my husband to be “the driver,” since he just knows where to go. And while this is a wonderful thing, he has become a crutch. I have to make sure I know where we are, especially when we travel — just in case I have to deliver him somewhere at some point!

      PS: I love that you bring you hubby lunch! You are the best.

  8. My now-16-year-old had his first epileptic seizure at age 1. Nothing fills your living room with firemen and paramedics faster than a call to 911 saying that a baby is very ill. I swear, the moment I hung up the phone they burst through the door, grave yet determined looks on every face.

    Fortunately, my son outgrew his epilepsy by age 4.

    Also fortunately, I’m not directionally challenged and know the way to three emergency rooms in my city.

    1. I can’t even imagine it, Jim. When I was talking to my SIL about this incident, which happened about 15 years ago, it STILL gave me goosebumps. I’m guessing you make certain you know where the nearest hospital is every time you go anywhere new. Like on vacation, etc. in some ways, that makes you better prepared than the rest of us who rarely think about these things before it’s too late!

  9. I always find that the more prepared I am, the less I need, you know? Like, if I bring a lot of extra clothes for a car trip, no one will get sick. Now I know where to go, so hopefully I won’t need to go back!! I’m glad my situation made you think and find out, just in case. 🙂

    1. It never rains when you are armed with an umbrella! So glad Erv is okay. I can’t believe it happened right after BlissDom! Why doesn’t stuff like that happy on Daddy’s watch? Or would that have been worse?

  10. Our hospital is easy. It’s a straight shot down a highway. Takes about 20 minutes if you are booking it. I know this because I had 2 babies there, and have had to go a few extra times WITH those babies, all turning out ok, thankfully. But yeah, I’ve been there done that, thanks!

    1. I’m knocking on that wood now. We have two hospitals in the general vicinity and an Urgent Care facility. I had no idea where any of them were until Greta inspired me to find out. Hopefully, I won’t need the information, but at least I have it.

  11. If it’s an emergency I’d dial the emergency number for an ambulance, if I couldn’t do that I’d just do what I’ve done before and call a taxi cab. Don’t your cab drivers know the hospitals in your area?

    Glad everything’s okay with your friend’s child.

    1. Val! If I waited on a cab, we’d never get to a hospital! My city is pretty small. Taxis aren’t hanging out on every street corner. I know I live in New York State, but we are about 6 hours from The Big Apple. If I want a cab to come to my house, I have to be prepared that cab might never come. Ever.

      If there were an absolute emergency, calling an ambulance in a no-brainer. But sometimes, like in Greta’s case, someone needs to be taken to the ER. Maybe the event is not life threatening, but you KNOW it’s not something your doc can handle. Or maybe it’s after regular office hours. I’m not sure how that stuff works across The Pond, but over here? Calling an ambulance is an expensive last resort.

      1. Mmm… I think with an injury to a child an ambulance is a first resort, but as our health care systems are different, you have to go with what works best for you.

  12. So glad your nephew is okay. I never thought of this! I live in a city, but have NO IDEA how to get to an ER even though there are sooo many here in Boston. Going to get on this over the weekend! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know. For some folks, this is just “common sense” — but for others of us? *raises hand* Not so much. I really hope, if nothing else, you have the conversation as to WHICH hospital and Google some instructions. 😉

  13. The advice is good for children’s accidents, but for us older folks an ambulance may be a better call. My wife drove me to the emergency room about 15 years ago. When I told the attendant about my chest pains and heart history, I was told to go sit in the waiting room, where I was left for an hour before being taken to triage. People arriving in ambulances are taken more seriously.

    1. For chest pain, you should be able to be seen if the person bringing you in CLEARLY says: “He/she is having chest pain.” In NYS, they get you right in for that. That being said, it is probably better to call an ambulance in those cases because, yes, if something happens on the way, the EMTs are trained to intebate patients, and they have other measures and medicines they can take that regular folks don’t have! So point well-taken!


      If you just need a couple of stitches? You should probably have the conversation with a spouse about WHICH hospital and does that spouse know how to get there? Like REALLY know how to get to the ER doors.

  14. We live a 5 minute drive from our local hospital, which still has an ER. We’ve been a few times, the odd time when BoyGenius was little and had a fever that just wouldn’t go down and one ear infection. Oh, and those 2 times he broke his arm … or maybe it was only once … apparently the second time it wasn’t really broken once the fracture clinic looked at the x-ray. Oh well, so far so good. And I have to say, when we’ve really needed it, our wait times were acceptable.

  15. Between a collision with the cement steps requiring 10 stitches, an ovarian cyst and my sister’s appendix, I got familiar with the ER where I lived before. Though the first time I drove there solo at 1 am to be with the sister, I got so lost and unsure I got pulled over for a suspected DUI. Yeah, that was exciting. :p

  16. Very good point, Renée … because ya just never know … Since my DH is a retired MD we are very familiar with the ER’s at home in Toronto. However, we are still in FL for another few weeks and as I was reading this I asked him if he even knew where the closest hospital is down here. Ooops – neither of us do. Hello Google, here we come!

  17. We have two hospitals, one right around the corner from the other. Well, until one of them blew away in the tornado. Which leads me to something you in upstate NY might not think about, but here in the midwest, when we travel and there is threat of severe weather, we make sure we know what county we are in and what counties are to the west and southwest of us in the event there is a tornado warning. We also scope out where we would go to take cover. Oh, and even though the hospitals are CLEAR ACROSS TOWN from where we live, we can get there in ten minutes, easily. Small towns aren’t all bad….

  18. I know how to get to the hospitals in West Palm, but not sure exactly where the ER entrance is. There is a walk in clinic right across the street from my community. It’s open weekends and evenings, but not 24/7. Thankfully I haven’t needed to use it yet.

    I do know how to get to the 24/7 emergency pet hospital.

  19. I am so impressed that you got a kid all the way through a bar mitzvah without needing to know where the emergency room is. The last time I was there (December) I realized I’ve been in every room in our pediatric emergency room.

  20. This is great information – I will be sharing it with my friends with kids (and those without, as well!)

    I have been to many ERs over the years – some for me and some for my partner. We live about 1/2 way between 2, and have been to both.

    One time, we were at our vacation home (in am small town about 3 hours from home). I was trying my hand at plumbing – replacing a kitchen faucet – and while under the sink, dropped a large wrench on my forehead. The goose-egg was so large we decided to go to the ER so I could get checked out. Fortunately, the last time we had been to the cabin, we happened to drive by the entrance to the local hospital, so we knew right where to go. Since then, that hospital has closed, and I think the closest one is now an hour away. ::knock on wood:: hopefully we won’t need it again any time soon!

  21. Great advice! My GPS is built into my car and one of the buttons is Emergency, which finds the nearest hospital. It is a great add on feature to the new GPS sync program. In the past? Gad, I am one of the most directionally challenged people I know, I would be lost.

  22. A few years ago, I busted my knee playing roller derby, because I’m bad ass like that. Maybe. Anyway, we didn’t realize the extent until the next morning. So off to the emergency room we go! As it turns out, we had no IDEA where is was and had to call my mother in law. It’s just one of those things you don’t think about until you need to.



  23. We know our way around the emergency scene. Grace gets high-fives from paramedics in public, and when we walk in the door at the pediatric emergency clinic, they greet her with a heartfelt “Grace!” like Norm gets at Cheers.

  24. I think I would always call 911. I am NOT good in emergency and would never trust myself to drive!

    I love this thoughtful post (in that you’re thinking of all of your readers!)

  25. Whew! I’m glad both little guys ended up to be OK.
    This is really good advice. Everybody should know how to get to the ER, although calling 911 is probably still the best idea.

  26. Nothing is scarier than a child falling down stairs. Luckily, where we lived when my son was small had carpeted stairs. When he fell, he rolled all the way down without a scratch. Whew!

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