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Be prepared

Think about taking a first aid and CPR course. Contact the American Heart Association or your local chapter of the American Red Cross for information on CPR and first aid training in your community. Courses are periodically run on Tufts campuses and are generally advertised throughout the university. Free first aid tips are available for popular smartphones from the First Aid by American Red Cross app, available in the Apple App Store or through Google Play.


First aid includes assessments and treatments that can be performed by a layperson (the victim or a bystander) with minimal or no medical equipment. First aid should never delay the activation of the emergency medical services (EMS) system or other medical assistance, if needed. This first aid guide is derived from the 2015 American Heart Association and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid.

In a medical emergency on campus, activate the emergency medical services (EMS) system by calling the University Police at 617-627-6911.

Hands-Only CPR

If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse:

  1. Call (or tell someone else to call) 617-627-6911 if on campus, or call 911 if off campus.
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival. Learn more about hands-only CPR at

Body Substance Isolation

Some infections can be transferred by a victim’s bodily fluids. While intact skin is a generally an effective barrier against outside contagions, bystanders should avoid contact with the body substances of another person. Keep in mind that you can be exposed by touching, splashing, and spraying (i.e., a sneeze or cough) and that exposure may occur through skin contact or contamination in the eyes, mouth, or nose. Body substance isolation refers to the practice of wearing or using barriers such as medical gloves or a CPR mouth-to-mouth barrier device to reduce the risk of transmitting an infection.

Positioning the Victim

It is best to allow only trained rescuers to move a victim who may have a spinal injury, because the victim could be paralyzed if moved improperly. There are, however, exceptions:

  • If there is immediate peril to you and the victim, it may be necessary to relocate the victim to a safer place.
  • If you need to perform CPR, it may be necessary to roll the victim onto their back.

Medical Emergencies


Injuries sustained at the workplace will require the victim’s supervisor to file certain reports with Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health, the Office of Risk Management, and Insurance Workers’ Compensation. These reports, as well as additional information, are available at


Mental Health Emergencies

Just like medical emergencies, mental health emergencies can be life-threatening. A mental health emergency exists when people are at risk of imminent harm to themselves or others, or their judgment and ability to care for themselves is so compromised that they may not be able to function safely.

Signs of a mental health emergency include:

  • Suicidal thoughts, plans, or behaviors
  • Imminent threats or aggression toward others
  • Loss of contact with reality, including paranoid or grandiose thinking
  • Hallucinations, including hearing and/or seeing things no one else can perceive
  • Extreme agitation
  • Incoherent speech
  • Extreme panic

What to do in a mental health emergency:

Do not leave the person who is in crisis alone, even for a moment. Call the University Police immediately at 617-627-3030.

Environmental Emergencies

Poison Emergencies

Poisons may be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through parts of the body. Treatment for different types of poisons varies, and no general recommendation can be made other than activating EMS and contacting the Poison Help hotline of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. If you believe someone has ingested poison or see them do it :

  • Call the University Police at 617-627-6911 to activate EMS.
  • Contact the Poison Help hotline at 800-222-1222.
  • Do not give the victim anything to drink or eat unless directed to do so by the Poison Help hotline.
  • Do not cause the victim to vomit unless directed to do so by the Poison Help hotline.

Alcohol-Related Emergencies

Alcohol emergencies may occur when a victim ingests alcoholic beverages. Symptoms of an alcohol-related emergency include:

  • Vomiting
  • Inability to speak or walk properly
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Slow responsiveness or unresponsiveness

If a victim shows any signs of an alcohol emergency, call the University Police at 617-627-6911 to activate EMS. If the victim is uninjured, place them on their side and offer reassurance until help arrives. Ensure that the victim remains stationary in a safe location until EMS arrives.

Public Health Emergencies

A public health emergency exists when campus air, drinking water, or food is contaminated with one or more hazardous agents such as chemicals or pathogens that could or will result in disease or injury affecting large numbers of people.
Likewise, other campuswide incidents—such as pest infestations or failure of the sewage system—could also cause significant disease or injury to communities.
Actions will be taken to notify the Tufts community of these conditions as soon as Tufts University becomes aware of an outbreak emergency.
The following types of outbreaks or epidemics represent public health emergencies:

  • Communicable disease: widespread disease for which vaccination is not available
  • Foodborne disease: gastrointestinal illness
  • Waterborne disease: microbiological or chemical agents
  • Injuries resulting from infestation by insects, rodents, or other pests (e.g., bedbugs)
  • Infectious disease resulting from contact with sewage or other human waste

Student Health Services, Public Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health, and Facilities Services each have a responsibility to be aware of the public health significance of utility failures, reports of unusual diseases or injuries, or an unusual frequency of certain diseases and injuries. Tufts University will work closely with local and state agencies such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to respond quickly and effectively to public health emergencies that occur at Tufts University or in the neighboring community.