09/10/06 — Red Cross urges residents to get 'Vial of Life'

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Red Cross urges residents to get 'Vial of Life'

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 10, 2006 2:01 AM

The Red Cross' Vial of Life could save your life.

The Vial of Life is a hard plastic tube that contains a medical history along with personal information that emergency services personnel can easily find in the event of an emergency.

The Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross is encouraging everyone to obtain a Vial of Life. Health and safety coordinator Roberto Mendoza said the Vial of Life program began a few years ago.

"It's a way of identifying somebody's medical history," he said. He said when EMS personnel go out on an emergency call into someone's house, they sometimes find that the victim is not able to give his or her medical history or what kinds of medications he is on.

"So they have a problem of trying to identify what's wrong with the person," said Mendoza. "The Vial of Life was created so that a person could put in his current medical history and medications."

The medical history includes such information as diseases, respiratory problems, illnesses and medical conditions, recent surgical history. Mendoza said there is a whole list of medical conditions that a person can check if he now has or has had in the past.

A person can also check a list of allergies he has. "That's very important because if the EMS personnel have to treat the person, they have to know if that person is allergic to anything. For example, some people are very allergic to latex and the EMS carries latex gloves.

"If the person has any type of allergy to any drug, such as the sulfa drugs or anything like that, the EMS personnel will know not to give it to him."

Mendoza said the Vial of Life lets the EMS personnel identify, at a glance, what is wrong with the patient.

The Vial of Life resembles a test tube and is about six inches long by an inch in diameter. It has a cap that screws on. Inside is a letter-size sheet of paper with a medical history and personal information on both sides.

You fill out the paper and put it back in the tube and place the tube in your refrigerator. Mendoza said one of the best places to put the tube is in the butter dish in the refrigerator. Mendoza stressed that the Vial of Life is not to be placed in the freezer.

A magnet comes with the Vial of Life. It's placed on the outside of the refrigerator. It has American Red Cross Vial of Life printed on it. There's also a red cross on the magnet.

Information in the Vial of Life should be updated yearly, said Mendoza. New information sheets are available at no cost at the Red Cross chapter at 600 N. George St. The Vial of Life is also free. Business are also welcome to go by and pick up Vials of Life for their employees.

He said emergency personnel know to check the refrigerator for the Vial of Life magnet.

Mendoza said the Vial of Life is for everyone to use. "It's especially good for the elderly who live alone," he said. "And sometimes when there's an emergency, people don't always remember their medical history or even a family member's medical history right away.

"So the Vial of Life could possibly save a person's life."

For more information about the Vial of Life program, contact the local Red Cross chapter at 735-7201.