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Over The Network

Vial of life

Your critical information for emergency personnel.

By John Vandergrift, the Rock Doc - a practicing board certified emergency physician.

There is value to having that vial of life in your refrigerator. This should contain a piece of paper listing
  • Any medical conditions you may have as well as a pertinent medical history (prior surgeries, important family medical problems, such as heart attacks at an early age in blood relatives, previously treated problems such as cured cancers, etc.).
  • All current medications along with doses and frequencies of taking the medicines.
  • Allergies.
  • A listing of names, addresses and phone numbers of your treating physicians as well as family members to be contacted if you are ill.
If you have an advanced directive (sometimes known as a "living will"), include a copy of it as well--and it is good to have this notarized.

These papers can help you (and emergency personnel) in situations that are very stressful to you and will be very helpful in situations where you may not be thinking clearly. It is good to keep this in your refrigerator in a colored tube or envelope so that it is easily identified, and will be in a constant location so you won't have to think where to find it in an emergency.

Probably the best thing you can do to decide among a selections of hospital or other medical facilities is to check with the campground owner/host. They usually will know the area better than you (unless you are familiar with the area), and can direct you to the facility of their choice. In many cities, some hospitals are better than others, and some have specialized services available. For example, if you have chest pain and a choice between two hospitals, it would be nicer to go to the one that specializes in heart treatment rather than the one especially known for cancer treatment!

As with most things, advance planning can turn an emergency and disaster into an inconvenience. If you have health problems, it is truly prudent to make some of these decisions with a cool head in advance, rather than in the confusion of an emergent situation.