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.
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.
Health Help Line (non-emergency)
If you need advice on a medical issue, call the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Line at 811 or 1-888-709-2929 (TTY: 1-888-709-3555) or visit their website. A registered nurse provides callers with health advice and information 24 hours per day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential and free of charge. Service is available in English and French.
All hospitals and certified medical services in the St. John’s metro area are operated under the authority of Eastern Health. The two main hospitals for adults in St. John’s are the Health Sciences Center, Prince Philip Drive and St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, Lemarchant Road. Both the Health Sciences Centre and St. Clare’s offer emergency room services for adults. The Janeway Children’s Hospital is the Province’s only children’s hospital and is attached to the Health Sciences complex. The Janeway offers emergency room services for children.
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 NL and you use the ambulance service, you have to pay a user fee of $115.
- Remember to keep your MCP card on your person at all times. You will need it to access any doctors, clinics, or hospital services in NL.
In NL, 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.
If you, or someone near you, seem to have life-threatening symptoms, call ‘911’ immediately and request an ambulance.
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, firefighters, 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 nearby 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.
The emergency 911 system is maintained by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) who can also be contacted anytime, day or night, at (709) 729-8000.
The public is encouraged to use the emergency 911 telephone number to request immediate assistance in case of fire, medical emergencies (ambulance) or other dangerous situations.
211 is an information and referral service that helps connect people in Newfoundland and Labrador to important government, social, and community supports.
Calling 2-1-1 connects someone to a trained navigator who can access an extensive database of community networks throughout our province, including all urban and rural locations.
Examples of Services Referred to:
- Women’s Shelters
- Newcomer Support
- Mental Health Resources
- Food Access
- Resource Centres
- Programs for Seniors
- Financial Assistance
- Indigenous Services
- COVID-19 Relief Programs
- Job Loss or Training
- Parent Support
To access the service, dial 2-1-1. If there is any issue, people can also call the toll-free line: 1-855-276-9072.
Hard of hearing individuals can also contact:
More information is available online at 211.ca
- Emergency Response Services
- Local Health Care Information
- Yellow Pages: Pharmacies
- Yellow Pages: Private Medical Insurance
We have made every effort to ensure that the information in this Guide is accurate and up-to-date. If you find any errors or omissions, please contact us.