Learning to recognize and respond to a diabetic emergency is an invaluable tool to have. Many of us have a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member who has Diabetes. Some of us may even happen upon a stranger in the middle of a Diabetic emergency. While health emergencies can be very frightening, the following information can help you focus and possibly save a life.

Remain calm. If you do not know the person or their medical history, ask if they are diabetic and look for an emergency bracelette or necklace. Diabetics suffering a medical emergency are sometimes confused to the point they do not respond appropriately. As with all emergency situations, assess the area for any threat to yourself and others. If it is dangerous, call 911 immediately and do not become part of the problem.

If the individual is Diabetic, observe for the following to determine what type of emergency it is;

An Insulin reaction, or Insulin Shock, is characterized by:
fast breathing
fast pulse
vision difficulty
change in consciousness
numb hands and/or feet
hunger, sometimes extreme

Diabetic Coma:
deep, fast breathing
thirst, dehydration
change in consciousness
sweet, fruity smelling breath
Ask the Diabetic the following questions if they are alert and responsive.
Have they taken their insulin?
Have they eaten?
Have they engaged in heavy exercise?
Have they experienced an emotionally or physically stressful event?
These questions will help to determine the nature of the emergency.

If the Diabetic is experiencing an Insulin reaction, ask them if they have glucose tablets or gel with them. If not, or are confused and not sure, it is up to you to get some sugar into them. They will need it quickly, this is actually a life or death emergency. Give them some pop, juice, milk, candy, straight sugar ... anything that will give them an immediate glucose boost.

A Diabetic Coma occurs gradually, it can take days to occur. While it is still a health crisis, it is not as urgent as Insulin Shock. Take the Diabetic to seek medical attention. If, by some chance you have given them more sugar don't panic. Chances are it won't cause more harm. The information should still be passed along to emergency personel.
If the individual you are assisting is unconscious, or becomes unconscious, absolutely do not put anything in their mouth. If you are unsure of how to assist, call 911. They will stay on the phone with you and walk you through what needs to be done. They will have dispatched help, it is on the way. When help arrives, tell them all of the observations you have made and relate anything the Diabetic has said.

Helping someone during a crisis is stressful, especially if you have no training. Make sure to give yourself time to "wind down" and if any part of the situation really scared you, or bothered you, discuss it with someone. Do not leave the person until medical personel or someone who knows the individual has arrived. Offer, even insist, on calling a family member or friend if you don't know the person. If you don't know the person, call 911 even if they are improving after you have administered assistance. Better safe than sorry. In any type of emergency situation, do not just charge in to "save the day". Assess the area for danger first. Do not become part of the problem. Call 911.