What would you put in a basic 'in case of emergency' info and first aid type of document to be kept on an ipod or cell phone?
February 19, 2010 3:04 PM   Subscribe

What would you put in a basic 'in case of emergency' info and first aid type of document to be kept on an ipod or cell phone?

A recent incident at work in which I found myself alone at work with a woman who was in a medical crisis, who had two small children with her, alerted me to how unprepared I was for such a situation. I had a daytime emergency contact person for work on my cell phone but did not have an after-hours number, I knew the intersection to inform medical help but did not know the exact street address etc. Obviously, it is unlikely that such a thing would be a regular occurrence, but it scared me a little and I want to be better prepared in case something emergency-esque ever happens again.

I was thinking of making a simple Word document I could convert to an ebook format and load onto my eBook reader and my iPod Touch. I want to include the full address and driving directions to both my home and workplace, info about me specifically (medic alert ID #, list of allergies etc.) in case ever needed, emergency contacts both for me personally in a home situation and to reach bosses or other contact people in a workplace situation, and perhaps some basic first aid information (preferably from a source like Wikipedia where it's on-line already and I can just copy and paste it into my document).

I am not looking for a full-on first aid course here. I just want to make sure that if I am ever caught in a situation like this one again, I am a little bit better prepared. My boss was closeby and could have come to my assistance if only I had the after-hours phone number on my cell phone and not on a binder upstairs...

(the woman was fine following medical treatment, just so nobody worries....)
posted by JoannaC to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you have any uncommon (or common) allergies, I might put that in before any first aid info.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2010

On my phone, in my contacts, I have an entry called "1EmergencyContact." The 1 makes it appear first in the list. It's my parent's number.
posted by ifandonlyif at 3:14 PM on February 19, 2010

on my phone, in contacts, i have ".emergency" with my fiance's number, my mom and dad's number, and my allergies.
posted by nadawi at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2010

Make sure you have an ICE number indicated in your cell phone. I'm not sure how prevalent that sort of thing is in the US, but I know my Mom and a bunch of her friends have little red magnets on the fridge that are envelopes with the sort of information you're describing.

If it were me, I'd have phone number for my family along with some sort of numerical list of what order to call them in, along with other people to contact if I were in some sort of longer term trouble [folks at work, neighbors]. If you've been CPR trained I'd include that information as a refresher [if not, it may not be helpful] and a few other things like how to help someone who is coking, how to detect a stroke [and what to do] and how to treat basic wounds before help arrives [how to immobilize things, how to stop bleeding, how to determine if someone is really in trouble or not].

Really this is all better as back-up to a decent first aid class, so you might want to consider if that would help your feeling of preparedness. It's really very typical that people who have been through a scary medical emergency [of their own or with someone else] look for ways of mitigating future potential events and more training will also equal better reparation and then the stuff you have in your phone is good for reminders.
posted by jessamyn at 3:16 PM on February 19, 2010

IAAEMT (I am an EMT)

I keep a card in my wallet with emergency contacts (my parents' cell phone numbers), the name and number of my primary care physician, my date of birth, blood type, medications, medical conditions, allergies, and important medical history (surgery, etc). It's also good to keep something like this on your fridge at home.

As far as first aid info, I'd say you're usually best off calling 911 unless you wanna go learn CPR (which is a great idea, I think).
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 3:22 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Allergies are what medic alert is for. I have a bracelet and card. Paramedics are trained to search for these, not your iPhone. ICE is widely known though.
posted by wingless_angel at 3:31 PM on February 19, 2010

Response by poster: I do have a medic alert bracelet with my own allergy info on it. And we did take a basic CPR/first aid course through work. I am not looking necessarily for stuff medical people themselves would access, more for stuff *I* could access in the iPhonr or wherever to make sure I could be of the best help if something like this ever happens again. For example, what I did with this woman at work was 1) get her and the children into the car so they were out of the cold and the children were not wandering around the parking lot 2) ask her if she wanted me to call 911 and/or summon my boss (who loves next door) 3) She said no and at that point seemed to think she could drive so I decided not to leave to go get my boss because I did not think she should drive and didn't want her taking off on me 4) asked her about child care so she could go to the hospital 5) the children wanted a snack so I got this together for them while she called a babysitter to meet her. By this point, her husband was arriving by cab and he was capable of driving, so I felt it was taken care of and I left.

But then in hindsight I was kicking myself that I did not have an after-hours number to reach my boss, and I was second-guessing if I should have called 911 or something. I was a little shaken up about the whole thing so I just want to make sure I have all the information in case anything like this ever happens again.
posted by JoannaC at 3:53 PM on February 19, 2010

I'm an ER doc. (In training.)

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- should know CPR. It's incredibly easy, cheap, and god forbid your child or friend or neighbor or spouse or loved one chokes or drops down in cardiac arrest, you might just save their life by knowing a few quick and simple maneuvers. Seriously. Dead child, or alive child. I hope you're reading, parents. (A Wikipedia article sounds great, but in the heat of the moment, do you think you're really going to calmly open up your ebook reader and skim through the article? No, panic and frenzy and adrenaline will take over, and unless you've practiced on a resuscitation dummy or been though a number of codes, you won't be thinking straight or calmly.) Maybe the simple basic life support algorithm? A = Airway, B = Breathing, C = Circulation; how to perform the heimlich on different age groups?

Paramedics are great at getting important emergency information, but if there's something they or I need to know about you immediately (allergies, you don't want CPR or intubation, you're a diabetic, you have a weird medical syndrome, you take certain medicines, you have HIV, you've had a heart transplant, etc.), wear a bracelet. ICE sounds great, but digging through someone's cellphone or iPhone app in a true emergency is the last of my priorities. I piece together what I can based on what the paramedics tell me about your medical history and medications (I can usually guess your medical history and its severity based on your medications) and your body shape, size, habitus, and any scars I see, and go from there.

No matter who you are, unless there's something obvious that precludes it, if you're not breathing, I intubate you and hook you up to a ventilator and get an Xray. If your blood pressure is low, or your heart rate is high, I give you IV fluids and get an EKG. Of course there's finesse to all this, but ICE or whatever is great 30 minutes later once you're stabilized, but it's not my immediate priority; you are.

(Also, if you have a password on your phone, there goes ICE.)
posted by gramcracker at 4:05 PM on February 19, 2010

Broaden the scope to everyday "urban emergencies", and prepare for those things. Eg You're meeting someone, you need to send them directions and your phone battery dies. You could use a payphone, but... what's their number - your phone is dead. Have a list of everyone's contact info, address, etc.
Being equipped and organized for everyday emergencies will probably help with outlying serious emergencies.

If the ipod is one that navigates pictures well, put street maps on it.

Put barcodes in it - so you can get into your gym when you've forgotten your membership card. Or get the discount at the grocery store without haveing your card. (Ok, I have a card with a bunch of my barcodes printed on it, rather than carrying a lot of cards, I haven't tried putting a barcode graphic on an LCD screen through a barcode reader, it might not work (if you look at an image with the backlight off, the difference in reflectivity between black and white isn't as big as you'd hope). But - there is only one way to find out! :))

A touch of reference data is sometimes useful - units conversion, time zones, etc.

Monitor your habits for a week or two - what kind of information do you find yourself constantly needing, or checking, or looking up, or forgetting? Put it on the ipod.

And preferably do all that in a clever way, so that if your ipod is stolen, you don't have to worry about identity theft. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2010

Also, if things like barcodes don't work on an LCD screen, print them on a sticker and stick it on the unused space that is the back of your ipod. As a bonus, it'll hide the scratches :)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:12 PM on February 19, 2010

I'd go low-tech for real emergency information. The wallet card with info is easy, goof-proof, and not prone to running out of battery power.

The only thing I would add to your phone is direct numbers for local fire and police. In the bay area at least, calling 911 will result in a delay from a dispatcher connecting you to the relevant agency. An example list of local numbers is here, but obviously you need only home and workplace local numbers. You may also want to add credit card cancellation service numbers in case of purse or wallet theft and keep a copy of the numbers in your car.
posted by benzenedream at 4:52 PM on February 19, 2010

My emergency info, which is in several places including other people's hands, includes the number of my dog trainer and another backup in case I get hit by another drunk driver and this time I can't talk for to anyone before the drag me into surgery and someone needs to take care of my animals.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:23 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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