Why My Daughter Has to Wear a MedicAlert: A Personal Story

medic-alertYou’re out on the playground when suddenly your child’s face begins to swell up like a balloon. Within seconds, she’s gasping for air. Sure you have the auto-injector, but are you really prepared for a life-threatening allergic reaction? The reality is, you could have as little as two minutes—maybe even less—to save your child’s life. With anaphylaxis, every second counts. In times of crisis, a MedicAlert medical ID can help speak for you.

That’s why my seven-year-old daughter Rebecca wears one.

MedicAlert is the largest subscriber-based charity in Canada and has been the most trusted and recommended medical identification service provider by the medical and emergency responder community. Currently, it’s most valuable for people living with diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart conditions, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

For the one in three Canadians who live with a medical condition that needs to be communicated to an emergency responder at the time of a medical emergency, a MedicAlert medical ID speaks for them when they cannot speak for themselves. It helps to connect the emergency responder to the information that matters most during those precious few seconds.

Thankfully we haven’t had to use it yet, but the peace of mind it brings is priceless. Because we took the time to fill out a detailed profile for Rebecca, including a full list of her allergies and possible drug interactions, we feel she’s protected. Just knowing that emergency responders have direct access to this information is greatly reassuring.

The reality is when I’m in the midst of an emergency I may not remember all of the details about our daughter’s multiple potentially life-threatening allergies or medications. Rebecca’s medical ID ensures that an emergency responder (paramedic, ER doctor, police officer or firefighter) will have immediate access to this life-saving information.

I now feel more comfortable letting her go over to a friend’s house or to her sports games, knowing that in the event that Rebecca were to go into anaphylactic shock, the paramedics have quick access to a list of her allergies, medications, medical history and family contact information within seconds. This is particularly important if I am not with her and not immediately available to answer questions or administer her EpiPen myself.

We first subscribed to MedicAlert when Rebecca was four, after she had developed several potentially life-threatening allergies, and thanks to the No Child Without program, she has a complete subscription to the service until her 14th birthday, free of charge. With thanks of course, to the generous financial support of the Canadian public, the Government of Canada and Lions Clubs of Canada.

Currently, over 58,680 children across Canada have benefited from No Child Without, and the program is currently active in 240 school boards, representing 6,113 schools. I highly recommend every parent of a child living with allergies or life-threatening conditions look into the various options that the MedicAlert medical ID system has to offer. It truly is the best way to protect family members when facing an emergency.

But knowing more about MedicAlert and how to use it in an emergency situation is not just for parents of kids who fall into this category of life-threatening allergies or conditions or caregivers of aging parents who might not be able to articulate their conditions in the event of an emergency.

Everyone needs to know the 1-2-3 rule for emergencies:

  1. Identify yourself to help make the person feel comfortable and at ease. (E.g., “My name is […] I’m here to help.”)
  2. Call 911 and provide as much information as you can. Assess circulation, airway and breathing.
  3. Check for a MedicAlert medical ID to find out if the person has a medical condition that emergency responders will need to know about.

By following these three easy steps, you can be the life-or-death difference to a person in need, no matter what their age.

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