Give First Responders What They NeedFirst responders look for your medical information on your phone, in your wallet, on a bracelet or elsewhere. They also look for these letters: ICE (In Case of Emergency), which is an acronym that gives medical personnel facts they need and need quickly to give you the best care possible. The information provided enables first responders and emergency room personnel to obtain important information like this in case you are unable to give it – i.e. you are unconscious at the moment:
- Drug allergies
- Medications you take and dosage
- Medical conditions
- Blood type
- Doctors’ names and numbers
- Past surgeries
- Name, age, gender
- Who you want contacted with the news
All of that is vital information when medical personnel are quickly assessing your situation. You may have a drug allergy that could affect decisions about medications to administer. Or, you may have a metal pin in your shoulder that could change a diagnosis testing plan, etc.
Ways to List Your Important Facts
Hospital personnel will certainly look on your phone for critical medical information if you have a cell phone with you. They will look first for an app with your medical information or for the word, "ICE," listed anywhere on your phone. In that case, do this now if you have not already: Add the letters I,C,E – in your address book next to the name of the contact or contacts that you would like called in an emergency. Make sure your special contacts know your vital medical information to provide.
Another alternative is to buy an app or use the one provided for your phone that contains all the important medical details. IF you do not have one on your phone, here are two to try but there are many to investigate and find what works best for your device:
- Emergency Link is a free app that is a 24-hour emergency response network that lets you store your important emergency contacts and medical information for Apple products.
- For $3.99, an app for the Android phones, ICE, stores your important information for first responders and hospital staff to access easily.
If you use a passcode on your phone for security reasons, it pretty much negates any reason to list ICE contacts because it is highly implausible that a first responder would know your code. However, there are some apps that are accessible without the code. So, look around when app shopping if you use a passcode with your phone.
Some phones provide access to a list of ICE contacts directly from the "locked" screen. Check your phone model and apps for such features.
Wallet CardsA card stored in your wallet in a visible area is a good idea as a back up or if you do not carry a cell phone. Here are some suggestions:
- List all the pertinent medical information on the ICE card and insert a photo as well.
- Place it in your wallet where it is easy to find.
- Consider printing it on bright colored paper to help it stand out in your wallet.
Medical ID Bracelets and NecklacesMedical ID bracelets and necklaces are an immediate alert to medical doctors and nurses that you have important information for them. They are also helpful if you fall unconscious and whomever finds you can obtain important information as well. Consider wearing one of these when hiking the Appalachian Trail by yourself and you have a serious allergy to bees. There are many companies that make necklaces and bracelets containing medical information. Here are two:
- The MedicAlert® Foundation provides personalized bracelets and wallet cards with a direct link to the MedicAlert® 24-hour emergency response center, where their emergency response staff relays vital medical information to first responders.
- Lauren's Hope has a great selection for everyone, but check out the cute ones for children and the silicone ones for active types.
- The LifeGuard30 device is marked with the Rod of Asclepius (the universal symbol of the medical profession) to indicate medical records are available and attached to a key chain
- The MedicTag produces a small USB medical alert storage device which allows the carrier to list all emergency information needed by emergency personnel. It fits on your key ring.
Some other considerations are listed below that may help you and your family get the best care possible in a medical emergency:
- Try searching online for free templates for emergency information. Look for reliable sites such as government or health care organizations and ensure that the template covers everything you need to explain. Check out the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association as well for forms.
- For children with special health care needs, The American Academy of Pediatrics has specially designed forms available. These are great to leave with babysitters and other caregivers for your child.
- Include important medical information and place it on your refrigerator door in plain view. In case of a 911 emergency where you have to be rescued and are unconscious, first responders will have all important data easily accessible. Some emergency units have been asked to check on the refrigerator door for information such as this.
- Alzheimer's patients or seniors with dementia are also candidates for an ID on them at all times that includes a means of contact for a caregiver.
- There are also a number of monitoring services available that will maintain your information for you and provide in home alert devices that will dispatch emergency services if the need arises.
What about you? What ways have you listed your medical information? Have you used any of these products and if so, what has been your experience with them?
Note: I have not received any payment for listing companies, products or services that provide emergency care aide. I refer to them only here as a tool for the reader to make this important step in providing emergency care information for themselves and their families.
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