“It could save your life,” said Robert Brehm of the Moore County Office of Emergency Management (EOC), holding what looked like a large bottle of pills. But there were no pills in it. The container is called the “Vial of Life”. It’s part of a free program that EOC officials are offering to county residents who can help emergency medical personnel answering calls at home save lives more effectively.
The scenario happens almost every day. Someone is lying unconscious in their home when they are found by a neighbor, friend or family member. They call 911 and an ambulance arrives at the scene. In many cases, the person who finds the victim unconscious may have little or no idea of the medical history of the patient who is unconscious or otherwise unable to speak. Chronic illnesses, drug allergies, current medications, recent surgeries and other information are vital in helping medical staff determine what is wrong with the patient and determine the best way to help. Equally important, information can help medical staff understand what not to do, what actions can be dangerous for the patient.
Through the Vial of Life program, Brehm says, emergency personnel coming into the home will have near-immediate access to a person’s health information. The Vial of Life container is part of a kit that, in addition to the container, comes with two stickers, a small magnetic badge, and a form that a person fills out with vital medical information that the person answering the emergency call may need. The person places the completed form into the container and closes the lid. He or she then places the container in the refrigerator, preferably on the door, and attaches the magnetic plate to the refrigerator. The sign informs emergency personnel that there is information in the refrigerator. A person puts stickers on the front door and/or front window, which alerts emergency personnel to look for the refrigerator to find information needed to treat their patient.
Brem emphasizes that the Vial of Life program is a safe way to share medical information in an emergency. The person fills out the form and stores it in a refrigerator that he or she or the caregiver can manage. No one has access to it, except for emergency personnel responding to a health crisis.
Bream added that there is a website that charges for Vial of Life, but those offered by the county are free to both the county and members. They are paid by the local aging agency.
Anyone interested in participating can call 806-934-9520 or go to the EOC, which is located behind the courthouse, north of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office. EOC visitors must ring the bell.
People can pick up the kit from EOC, or someone from EOC can deliver it. For those who need help getting started: “We’ll set it up (for them),” Brem added.
Brem said he and the rest of the EOC staff are looking forward to a great response to the program. They say he has been successful elsewhere and believe he will be successful in Moore County as well. “If it saves even one life, it’s worth it.”