Refrigerator vials hold medical records

Monday, October 23, 2006

QUINCY, Ill. -- Mixed in with the milk, eggs and leftovers, should be a refrigerated item that could one day save your life, local officials say.

A Vial of Life -- a medical form encased in a plastic container -- provides rescue personnel with the vital information they need when responding to an emergency.

"We can find out medical history. We can find out medicine allergies. We can determine what treatment we might need to proceed with," said Paul Davis, director of the Adams County Ambulance Service.

The vials are stored in the refrigerator, typically on the highest shelf on the right-hand side. A label is placed on the upper right corner of the refrigerator to alert emergency personnel to the presence of a Vial of Life.

The vials especially come in handy when a person lives alone and is unable to communicate with emergency workers or during a crisis when family members are too distraught to provide necessary lifesaving information.

The Vial of Life program was launched in 1980 by the Adams County Medical Auxiliary, the Blessing Hospital Women's Board and Adult Health Corps and the St. Mary Hospital Guild.

Interest in the vials has waned in recent years, so a new effort is taking place to spread the word about the program.

Two sizes are available, a 4-inch vial suitable for individuals or couples who live alone, and a 6-inch vial that works well for families.

In addition to medical history and a list of medications and allergies, the form provides contact information so medical personnel can call loved ones.

"(The patient) can feel comfortable their loved ones will be notified as soon as possible," Dean said.

In addition, the form says whether the person has a living will or health care power of attorney, and directs rescue personnel to those documents to ensure the person's wishes are carried out.

The Vial of Life containers, with blank medical information forms, are available in Adams County at all police, fire and ambulance stations, along with the Adams County Sheriff's Department.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: