WV8DOC & AK9DOG  Wood County Emergency Communications Unit 364

Wear Your Emergency Medical Information

Wear Your Emergency Medical Information

People with life-threatening allergies or other medical conditions should wear a medical alert bracelet. If you have milder health concerns, you can store medical information on a laminated card in your wallet. Include your type of allergy, doctor’s name and phone number, emergency contact information, and health insurance information. You should know, however, that most emergency room personnel believe that federal privacy laws (HIPPA*) prohibit them from looking in your wallet for that emergency information card that everyone is supposed to carry. So you must be sure to be conscious when you arrive at the hospital so you can give them that laminated card. Otherwise, the E.R. staff has to wait for the police to arrive and retrieve the emergency information card from your wallet.

Since I am active in my community as an emergency responder and stand a slightly better-than-average chance of arriving unconscious at the hospital, I wear on a chain around my neck identification tags and a USB flash drive on which I have a digital copy of my entire medical information, including all present health concerns, medications, and supplements, plus my emergency contacts, including my physician's and dentist's name, address, and phone numbers. To be sure that anyone with a computer can read my information, I have it stored in MSWord and pdf formats. The flash drive also has copies of my medical insurance card, my driver's license, my state employee's ID card, and all my emergency skill certifications and FEMA/ICS certificates in jpg format. Virtually all hospital emergency rooms, most urban police vehicles, and many fire and EMS vehicles are now equipped with computers, so most first responders will be able to read my emergency information whether or not I am conscious to give it to them. And since it's hanging on a chain around my neck in plain view, nobody has to worry about HIPPA rules when they access my emergency information.

You can do as I did and make your own with a $5.00 flash drive (yeah, you can find them on sale for about 5 bucks), or you can buy a really fancy one for $45.00 here. (The fashion-conscious among us will probably opt for the pretty one.) Several people who purchased the fancy one complained that the red medical alert symbol wore off in about three weeks. You can protect yours by simply applying a thin coat of clear nail polish over the emblem and reapplying it when it starts to show signs of ware.

Put Emergency Contacts on Your Cell Phone

For some strange reason, while HIPPA prohibits medical personnel from looking in your wallet for life-saving information, they are allowed to look at your cell phone. The American Red Cross and other emergency agencies recommend that you "flag" your emergency contacts in your cell phone's contact list with the initials "ICE" - In Case of Emergency. Just include the letters "ICE" in the name field for your emergency contacts. Most Emergency Room staff are now aware of this practice, so all they have to do is to search your cell phone's contact list for any name containing "ICE."

* The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)