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Emergency Information

Is It An Emergency?

When you are feeling very sick, you are often scared and in pain so your first response may be to go to the emergency room (ER). However, not all illnesses require an ER visit. Even with insurance, the emergency room can end up costing you a lot of money. An average ER visit can cost about $2,500. Plus, because the ER is not set up to handle routine care, your wait time may be very long if it is not an actual emergency.

Please remember, this is general advice and is not intended to replace medical advice you receive from your doctor. When in doubt, trust your instincts. If you feel you or someone else needs immediate medical attention, call (415) 422-2911 if you are on campus. Make sure to save that number to your cell phone. If you are off campus call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest hospital.

Advice Nurse Hotlines

Call the toll-free numbers below to talk to a registered nurse. They can share information with you on a range of health topics, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Aetna: (800) 556-1555
  • Anthem Blue Cross: (800) 224-0336
  • Kaiser Permanente: (415) 833-2200
  • Blue Shield: (877) 304-0504
  • Health Net: (800) 675-6110

Medical Emergency

Warning Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting two minutes or more
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, difficulty waking
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Unusual abdominal pain
  • Traumatic injury

For more information on medical emergencies, visit Emergency Care For You.

Should You Call An Ambulance?

  • Is the victim's condition life- or limb-threatening?
  • Could the victim's condition worsen or become life- or limb-threatening on the way to the hospital?
  • Could moving the victim cause further injury?
  • Does the victim need the skills or equipment of paramedics or emergency medical technicians?
  • Would distance or traffic conditions cause a delay in getting the victim to the hospital?

For more information on medical emergencies, visit Emergency Care For You.

What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is a national phone number that you can call for help during an emergency. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department, or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

Remember, if you are on campus, you should call the USF Emergency Number at (415) 422-2911. If you are off campus, call 9-1-1.

For more information on 9-1-1, visit

USF Medical Amnesty / Good Samaritan Policy

Students at the University of San Francisco may be reluctant to seek medical attention for themselves or others in instances of alcohol or drug intoxication for fear of facing disciplinary action from the University.

Students who seek medical assistance for themselves (Medical Amnesty) or seek help for another student (Good Samaritan) due to intoxication of alcohol and/or drugs will be exempted from the standard disciplinary process outlined in the Fogcutter Student Handbook.

In other words, if you witness an emergency, you should try to help any injured person if you are able to, without being afraid that you will get in trouble if you make a mistake. This also applies if you witnessed or participated in something illegal at the time. For example, if one of your friends is overdosing, you should immediately call 415-422-2911 (or 2911 from any campus phone) without fearing that you will be prosecuted for drug use.


  • Always carry your insurance card with you. When you go to the doctor or hospital or call an ambulance, make sure to show them your insurance card. If you have not received your insurance card, please call your insurance toll free number to request an insurance card.
  • If you have a medical emergency, be sure to tell the doctor, paramedic, or nurse who is assisting you about any medical conditions or allergies you might have.
  • Remember: Health Promotion Services staff can assist you with your questions about health insurance, billing, and general health care questions.