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Where’s Your ID?
By Jane Grillo, White County Parent Mentor
Over 90 mentors are working in school districts all around the state of Georgia. These professionals, who are moms and dads of students with disabilities, help support the work of families, schools and communities in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. In an effort to share some of the wealth of knowledge and experiences that we mentors have as parents, we will be offering this humble blog post about some of the topics that mentors themselves are discussing. Most topics are about issues that we deal with in the course of parenting our own children and working with other families.
Today’s offering comes from my own exploration into the world of medic alert bracelets. My son is nonverbal and has significant mobility challenges along with respiratory distress and seizure issues. I have struggled with trying to figure out the best ways to offer medical personnel the most useful information in the event no one can speak for him in an emergency. I started researching medical alert bracelets online and quickly descended into a sales spiral of offers of contracts and online registries and membership deals, etc. Then, I put out the question to the mentors and here is what I learned:
“We use RoadID shoe tags that usually runners use. Love them! They have bracelets too.” http://www.roadid.com/ Caroline Hull, Rockdale County Parent Mentor
“My guys will not tolerate Medic alert bracelets or tags around the neck but they will wear dog tags on their shoe laces. We have ordered the tags online but the easiest way is to go to the pet store or the pet department at Walmart and make them on the machine for a few dollars. We just put name, doctor and phone number and hook to the shoelaces with small s-hooks. We’ve used them forever.” Judith Steuber, Cobb County Parent Mentor
“I went to a friend who is a jeweler and had bracelets engraved. I also put all my children’s medical history on flash drives and keep several of those handy so that when I take them to the doctor I have everything in one place and they can just download the information.” Joellen Hancock, Cherokee County Parent Mentor
Another friend of mine, who has a son with a similar level of disability as my son’s, purchased a medical ID bracelet online. She bought it several years ago and advised me to do two things if you have decided to go this route: First, shop around. There are a lot of these companies out there; some of them specifically market to potential groups such as people who have a family member diagnosed with autism or Alzheimers. Second, she said, “Before you put the item in your cart, read the fine print.” Know what you are buying. Many companies have built in added service agreements (such as a membership or product package) that include annual fees.
Either way you go, the important thing is what to say on the bracelet. Emergency medical personnel are trained to look for a bracelet or dog tags. Obviously, medical allergies need to be indicated, as well as other medical conditions such as diabetes, hemophilia, etc. But what about other medical concerns, like those I have for my son? There is not a lot of room on dog tags or bracelets. So here is what we decided: Put just the basics on a dog tag.
Instruct EMTs to look for flash drive in his backpack
Then, we will put the information such as insurance and other pertinent medical information on some flash drives and stow them in the backpack on his wheelchair and keep one in the house. I chose this route because my son simply can’t go anywhere unattended. I can imagine only a few scenarios where there would be no one who could be present to inform medical personnel about his needs.
Although I thought some of the professional services available were very useful, I thought the better bang for our buck was the homemade version because my son doesn’t wander off on his own. I think for people who have more mobility and are ambulatory these packages make a lot of sense. Use Google to help you locate the best solution for you and your family. I looked for companies that are endorsed by the American Red Cross and other disability related organizations.
Now, I can cross this worry off the nightly 2 a.m. “Things I Need To Get Done List”.
Jane Grillo is the parent mentor for White County Schools. In her life before the birth of her son, Joe, she was a weekly newspaper reporter and editor.