Free Cards Provide Vital Medical Information


During a medical emergency, every second counts, as paramedics fight to save a life.

A new Medical Information for Emergency Responders card placed on a fridge enables medics to quickly access a patient's health information when an emergency occurs.

The cards, provided free of charge by the Pine Strawberry Firefighters Association, are available at the Pine Fire Station's administration building. On the front of this bright gold, 5-by-8-inch card, senior citizens can fill out medical information, such as allergies, illnesses, past surgeries, doctors' names, health care plans and emergency contact numbers. The back of the card lists current medications and their dosages, said Michele Powers, a reserve EMT for the Pine Fire Department.

"If a patient is not able to give information, it is right there for emergency responders to refer to," said Powers, who printed 250 cards last year after hearing of a similar program in Pinal County.

At the urging of a friend who is also an EMT, George Stetson, 68, and his wife Patricia, 65, tacked a list of emergency medical information to their fridge more than a year ago.

Stetson said he received two gold cards when he installed the Guardian Angel program for his wife, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

"We took our own papers and stapled them onto the face of the yellow cards," said Stetson, who also keeps a copy of his medical information in his wallet. "I'm 15 feet away from the fridge and I can still see it."

In February, Stetson dialed 911 for his wife.

"When the EMTs came, I was able to hand them a sheet with my wife's medical information," Stetson said. "Otherwise, they would have had to start quizzing me while I was not thinking clearly. It saves a lot of questioning and answering."

"In an emergency situation, medics are moving around at a fast pace," Stetson continued. "You don't want them to give you something that will counteract the medication you are already taking." Stetson said he and his wife update their information regularly.

"We keep all of our medical information on the computer and print it out," Stetson said. "I have a doctor's appointment in several days. I'll update my card if my medication dosage is changed."

Although there is ample room to make updates, new cards are always available, Powers said.

Sara Rittenhouse, a volunteer at the Pine-Strawberry Senior Center, said she picked up a card nearly six months ago, after seeing an advertisement in the paper. Rittenhouse said she grabbed more than 20 cards to distribute to people coming to the Senior Center.

"Not everyone has transportation to the fire station," Rittenhouse said. "The cards were gone in two days."

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