If you could put all the information needed to communicate your health history into one place, where would be a good place to keep it? Perhaps in a filing cabinet? On a desk? On the nightstand?
What one project has come up with is a medicine bottle. With this project, called the Vial of L.I.F.E. (Lifesaving Information For Emergencies), the information is placed into a large medicine bottle. This includes information about what medicines you are taking, your health history, any allergies or other information needed to treat you properly, and if desired, information regarding your medical power of attorney and desired treatment document.
Although the origin of this concept is not well-documented, it appears that this was a grass-roots effort by a first responder organization. Others found out about it and did them as well. What does appear to be documented is that a Red Cross in California who was doing this handed it off to a company already selling alert products (remember, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials? Yeah, them.)
The company took on this project and created a website and database where people could store their information, as well as making sure that Vials of Life as a name was never copyrighted and would be in the public domain for others wanting to do this as well.
The basic concept is that the information is stored in the medicine bottle and this bottle is stored on a shelf on the refrigerator door. In other versions, the bottle is placed in a plastic bag and attached to the front of the refrigerator door. This might be by affixing the baggie to the door handle. A sticker is then placed on the front door or window to alert first responders that the bottle exists. They can then get the bottle and reference the information inside to treat a patient who may not be able to communicate for themselves. If you haven’t guessed, this method is primarily for older adults who may have to use emergency services more often than the general public.
In February 2022, New Castle County (Delaware) Emergency Medical Services, along with a partnership with pharmacy Ivira Health, announced the availability of these kits throughout the county for residents to use. The kits are available at all New Castle County public libraries
What if you are not in the local area? The national website is still available and allows you to print out the forms and order sticker information so you can create you own kit. Here’s a hint: If you don’t have a large empty medicine bottle, a stop at a local pharmacy to explain what you are doing may get you a free one if you ask nicely.
Even if you don’t utilize all of the kit, it still is a good idea to have all of your health and medicine information in one place and a medicine bottle in the fridge is as good a place as any to not lose it.