Emergencies – they can happen at any time to anyone. They often come as a surprise and catch us unaware and unprepared. But did you know you could actually prepare for an emergency? Whether you consider yourself tech savvy or technology challenged, there are ways to be prepared when the unthinkable happens.
For those of us with MG, being prepared for a medical emergency is especially important because when it happens, we may not be able to speak for ourselves or communicate our health and insurance information. Below, I will give you some practical tips to prepare for a medical emergency using the latest technology and some tips that don’t require any smart devices.
When an accident or illness occurs in your home and you are home alone, being able to call emergency services is key. If you have a smart phone, Google, or Amazon device, you can speak the “wake” word and request that your device call 911 or press emergency on your smart phone. If you do not have such devices, perhaps you will want to invest in a wearable push-button device that will notify emergency services for you in the event you’ve fallen or can’t dial directly to 911.
Access to your home in the event of an emergency is also critical. Many cities offer a lock-box service through the local fire department. For a nominal fee, your local fire department will place a box next to your front door holding your key within. Only the fire department and emergency services personnel will have access to the box.
For a high-tech solution, there are electronic door locks on the market which you can unlock from your smart device even when you are physically unable to get to the door. You may also want to install an emergency switch, available at any hardware store, and when used to replace your front porch light switch, will, when engaged, flash on and off quickly to alert emergency personnel which house needs help. This light may also alert neighbors that you need help.
Once medical personnel reach you, they will want to know your medical history and insurance information. Having this information readily available will save time and provide critical information about what medications you may be able to take. If you have this information in your smart phone, you can show the medical personnel your device. However, even with a smart device, it is recommended that you have a printed copy of your diagnosis, medications you are taking, and those medications and allergies which may make your MG worse.
One such way to easily provide medical and insurance information is to have it printed and placed in a gallon-sized plastic storage bag that is taped to the inside of your front door or your refrigerator door. A non-profit company called Vial of Life will send you a sticker for your door that will alert emergency personnel to your medical condition and provide you with a form to complete with your medical and insurance data. You may want to include in this packet the following brochures: Emergency Management for First Responders and Cautionary Drugs. Both of these MGFA produced brochures are available for downloading on the myasthenia.org website.
Another way to communicate your special MG needs is to wear medical diagnosis identifying jewelry. Emergency personnel will call the number on your bracelet or necklace to retrieve your medical information. Since certain medications may aggravate our myasthenia and communicating our condition is so critical, some of us with MG may choose to get a tattoo warning of our myasthenia diagnosis.
All of these tips are great for emergencies that happen within our home, but what if we have an emergency on the road, at work, or out in public? Keeping an emergency card in your wallet and your car’s glove box will provide critical information to emergency personnel. You can download a fillable emergency card from the MGFA website by clicking here. This card also lists drugs that may interfere with your MG.
If you have a smart phone, you may want to add a special contact named I.C.E. (in case of emergency) to your contact list. This ICE can be anyone you choose who knows about your medical condition and can provide your doctor’s name and number, medications, and allergies. There is also a little-known special feature for smart phones that will automatically text your ICE contacts, record about 30 seconds of video on your phone, and send out an SOS message including your GPS coordinates. This feature is activated by holding both the volume and on/off switch and pressing them three times in rapid succession. Your ICE contacts will get your exact location and video of your emergency. This can be especially helpful in a car accident, weather emergency, or crime situation.
Planning for an emergency may not always lessen its impact, but it will provide you with some peace of mind that emergency personnel will know how to care for you should the unthinkable happen.