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September 9, 1974

"Point in Time"—Medical Emergencies

JAMA. 1974;229(11):1474. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230490062030

When confronted with emergencies, we become aware that the dimension of time undergoes a change. It ceases to be the objective time of the calendar and the clock, or the subjective time of a busy practitioner impatiently looking at his watch, or the biological time of various rhythmic bodily functions. At the brink of timelessness, time shrinks to a point—a vanishing "point in time."

Into this "point," the physician must compress all his pertinent knowledge and skill. There is no room for equivocation and deliberation. Such maxims as "look before you leap" or "make haste slowly" must be quickly dismissed from mind to be replaced by "he who hesitates is lost."

In order to attain the mandatory promptness of response, the physician and his staff must lay out a strict procedural protocol. And for extreme emergencies such as cardiac resuscitation, they should further prepare themselves by frequent rehearsals.

"Medical Emergency