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First Responders Update

By Kelly Gordon - sifrpresident@gmail.com
President, First Responders

Do you know all the medications you take and what they’re treating? Most people we meet on emergency medical calls have no idea what they’re taking or why. It’s a crapshoot when we ask a spouse what their wife/husband is regularly taking. Please take the time to know your family members’ medical history so that you’re prepared for a medical crisis.

The yellow medical cards are a great crutch for us when we can’t get accurate information from the patient. There is a convenient space on the yellow card for a list of your current medications. We know what the medication is and what it’s used for most of the time. However, I suggest each of you take the time to do the same.

I was at the emergency room with my mom recently, and she had a laundry list of medications. She doesn’t have a clue what most of them treat or the side effects. We ALL assume our doctor knows best, and we never question what they prescribe. Please take some time to make a list of all your medications, and alongside those prescriptions, write down what they treat. It’s important to know this information for many reasons.

We always need a patient’s ID and insurance card/cards when they’re being transported to a hospital. At least 80% of the time, the spouse hasn’t a clue where to find their wife’s/husband’s cards. Please familiarize each other with where these items are so that you’re not scrambling to find them when you’re in crisis mode.

We’ve made some modifications to the yellow medical cards, including adding a section for the Medicare number and whether or not you have a legal DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and where it’s kept in your home. In the state of Georgia, you must have a physician’s signature on the DNR for it to be legal. If we are told that a patient has a DNR, we will do CPR until we have the DNR in hand. We can’t make assumptions about your wishes. It helps if you communicate with our team.

If you are planning to go to the emergency room with your spouse, child, friend, neighbor, or family member, below are some items we recommend you take with you:

  • cell phone and charger
  • a sweater or jacket
  • a bottle of water 
  • a snack
  • something to read
  • a list of any pertinent medical history on the patient

Have an emergency plan in place so that you’re not overwhelmed in a medical emergency. If you live alone and have a pet, please write in the notes area of your yellow card who to call if you’re taken to the hospital and need assistance with your pet. Please do this BEFORE you need us. Countless times we run into a situation where the spouse who needs to go to the emergency room can’t leave their wife/husband at home because the patient is the caretaker.

If your spouse cannot be left alone and you need to go to the hospital, YOU MUST HAVE A PLAN in place so that we can assist when necessary. We can’t stay with your dependent spouse. You can write down your emergency plan and attach it to the yellow card. We don’t think of these things until it’s too late. Chaos on top of an emergency medical call can cause a patient to decline transport because they’re afraid to leave a dependent at home. If there’s a plan in place, the transition will go smoothly.

Our main goal is to listen to you, honor your wishes regarding your care, and always ensure your affairs are in order before we transport you to the hospital. That being said, we are not home health care and can’t stay with your pet or loved ones. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to make a plan.

Stay safe and, as always, thank you for your continued support of the SIFR.