Gift That Will Save a Life
Vial or File of Life – a Great Gift Idea for Family or Employees
We are constantly looking for ways to engage our communities in “preparedness thinking.” It’s not always easy. For some reason, many people prefer to fall back on “It won’t happen to US!” as the reason they don’t do any planning.
However, everyone has seen an ambulance pull up to a home or business, lights blazing. Everyone stops for at least a moment to wonder what is happening inside.
We can use this fact to raise awareness in our neighborhoods or workplaces. Here’s a GIFT that you can arrange for that people will value – and that could make a difference between life and death.
The Gift: The Vial of Life
At a recent meeting with the Fire Department we were reminded that when First Responders are called to an emergency in a home, they automatically look for the victim’s VIAL OF LIFE.
What is the Vial of Life?
The Vial is really simply a container that holds essential medical information for the people in the house – information that First Responders will want to know if they have to give emergency treatment.
Originally, the info was put into an actual vial (like a medicine prescription bottle) but these days, the preferred container is a simple zip lock Baggie. You can see the plastic baggie in the image (blue stripe).
What goes into the Vial of Life Baggie?
The Baggie holds a filled-out Medical Information Form. It’s the form in the picture, with places for info such as:
- Name of person in trouble
- Name of Doctor
- Medical conditions
- Current medicines/prescriptions
- Contact information for family
Where do I put the Vial of Life Baggie?
Identify the Baggie by placing a decal with a red cross on the outside. Fold the Medical Information Form and place it inside.
Then fasten the baggie to the refrigerator door with tape or a magnet.
(Naturally, you’ll want to keep the Medical Information Form updated – that’s why it’s best to use a zip lock style baggie so you can take papers out and replace them.)
How does the Fire Department know I have this information on my refrigerator?
Depending on the layout of your home, place the second decal with a red cross on the front window or door to your house. This will let the Fire Department know you have a Vial of Life Baggie on the refrigerator.
Even without the second sticker, they will likely automatically look there for medical information.
Anything else I need to know?
Depending on your circumstances, you may want to put other information into the Baggie. For example . . .
- If you have appointed someone else to make medical decisions for you in an emergency (common for senior citizens), you may want to include that info along with directions to where the full document can be found.
- Your Advance Health Care Directive, which tells what emergency life-sustaining treatment you want, can also be included. (That form is available online and must be witnessed by your doctor.)
- Finally, if you have specific end of life wishes, such as the desire to donate your body, you may want to include that info, too.
These documents are important.
Without the Vial of Life information, emergency personnel will follow their STANDARD PROCEDURE – which may NOT be what you want or can even survive.
How to Use the Gift with Your Group
If you want people to participate, you have to make it easy for them.
The “easiest” is to create Vial of Life kits, already assembled, and pass them out to all the members of your group. Each member of the family needs one!
You can go to http://www.vialoflife.com to get the masters for everything you need.
Assemble into individual kits:
- Instruction sheet
- 2 Decals (print your own using color printer onto white labels), one for the Baggie and one for the door
- Medical Information Form
If you prefer, turn this into a group activity. Provide sheets of decals, piles of forms and instructions and the baggies and have group members set up an assembly line to separate and assemble the kits. Next step is to distribute kits to neighbors, family members, etc. (You could add a pen as an extra incentive to get the form filled out!)
We distributed Vial of Life kits to our community about three years ago. Many of our neighbors, who don’t participate in any of our neighborhood emergency response team activities, still have their Baggies and point proudly to them.
The Vial of Life has been a successful and inexpensive awareness builder for our team. Add it to your own group’s agenda!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
If you are looking for other emergency response team ideas for group activities, please don’t overlook the book of CERT Meeting Ideas I put together earlier this year. You can get details here.
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