Friday, June 20, 2008

Project Lifesaver and Medical/Non-Verbal ID

Project Lifesaver is a program that coordinates between caregivers for individuals with disabilities that make them likely to wander or get lost and local law enforcement/rescue services. It involves the individual with a disability wearing a transmitter, usually on a wrist or ankle band (which must be checked daily to be sure it is working by the caregiver). This transmitter relays GPS location to rescue workers in the event that the individual is lost. Project Lifesaver has a 100% rescue rate (1,691 rescues), is endorsed by many sheriff and national disability societies and has been featured on TV shows like Extreme Home Makeover. Here is a video explaining how it works:
The carrying of medical or some other kind of identification has long been a mission of mine when it comes to individuals with significant disabilities. I worry less about something happening to the individual with a disability and more about what would happen to the individual with the disability if something happened to his or her caregiver.

For example, if one of my non-speaking students had a seizure out at the mall with his or her PCA, then the PCA could coordinate his or her emergency care. However, what if one of my students was at the mall with his or her PCA and the PCA had a medical emergency, perhaps fainted or choked? How would emergency workers know who to contact for my student? How would emergency workers know whether or not my student's behavior/medical status was normal for him or her? (Trust me, no one is going to set up that AAC device if it is not set up already to ask the individual.)

The answer is that the medical worker would not know. Not unless the student was wearing or carrying some kind of identification. At the very least, I hope that the my student was carrying some kind of cell phone with I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency, MOM or DAD programmed into speed dial) and someone answered.

My "better safe than sorry" recommendation is a cell phone plus both a medical ID bracelet, necklace or shoe tag (a shoe tag is a great way to go with sensory defensive kids) and an information tag/card hanging on the back of the wheelchair, the back pack or in a wallet.

I personally wear a Medic Alert bracelet (the one that has the toll free number that rescue workers or emergency rooms can call for more information on my medical condition), carry a wallet card and have a medic alert sticker on my car (I am an insulin pump using diabetic). I have friends who also carry a bright red, medic alert, encrypted flash drive with their medical files. I would love to see all of my students and all people with disabilities do the same.

When my friend's daughter, who has significant disabilities, was in a minor school bus accident and was taken to the emergency room they looked in her back pack for emergency contact information, prompting us to make emergency information cards and place them in every student's backpack in our classroom.

In addition, Medic Alert even sells bracelets/ID for caregivers as part of their safe return program, the bracelets state that the individual is a caregiver for someone with _____ disability and to call the toll free number for more information. When the emergency worker calls the number they not only receive information on the caregiver, but also on the individual with a disability.

Here is the link to Medic Alert and other medical identification and similar companies:
Free Online Medical Cards to Print, Laminate and Carry
Note: after writing this post I happened to see similar cards left out for people to take at the registration desk at my doctor's office! Perhaps you local doctor's office or hospital could supply you with these for all of your students.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and respectful discussion are welcome and encouraged! No advertisements or spamming.

Contact Me at:

Contact Me at:

Visit our advertisers:

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation, LLC Try Nick Jr. Boost FREE for 7 Days ... Label the things you love !! Build-A-Bear HearthSong - Toys Outlet