Time Counts in an Emergency; Have ID and Instructions Ready

Vial of LIfe form available on internet

By Andrew Perkins

Have you ever had to call 911 for a medical emergency? Chances are it was not a calm experience, depending on the problem. Whether it is a family member, friend, or even your own emergency, important medical information written down and readily available can save valuable time for first responders.

Relevant information such as full (legal) name, date of birth, allergies, current medication list, and past medical history is a good place to start. Other information that can be helpful is emergency contact information for family or guardian, or even a Power of Attorney. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) forms are also forms that need to stay with the person. Social security numbers are not needed.

A DNR is a pink form that is signed by the doctor and patient. The original needs to be with the patient if they are being transported to the hospital for any reason. The paper needs to stay with the patient at all times in order to be honored. 

EMS and Fire personnel want to respect the patient’s wishes, but without having the DNR in hand if needed, it cannot be honored. A living will is not a valid form of wishes EMS personnel can use.

There is a form you can get off of the internet called the Vial of Life. It is meant to be filled out and placed on the fridge at the person’s home. If someone is unable to respond to questions, or if a family member does not know certain information, EMS personnel have been trained to check the door or side of the fridge to look for any paperwork. Visit VialOfLife.com to request information. You can also print it yourself if preferred.

Sometimes when 911 is called the door is locked at the residence because the caller is unable to get to the door. If your residence has a hidden key or code to get into the door to gain entry to the residence without causing damage, the information can be emailed to AndoverEMS@nullandover-nh.gov. This email is secured and only accessed by the officers of Andover EMS.

If you give the information, it is forwarded to the dispatch center for the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid. They input it in your address on the computer. If 911 is called, the information pops up in their system. Emergency personnel will be asked to call the center by phone and the code is given that way. It is the most secure way to keep your information private. 

Information such as key locations or codes are never given over the radio. Once the information is forwarded to the dispatch center it will be deleted from the EMS computer. No information is stored at the fire station.

Lastly, we are always looking to add members to our roster. For anyone who is interested in getting information to join the Andover Fire or EMS department, please feel free to email AndoverEMS@nullandover-nh.gov. No training or experience needed. Have a great summer!