you have a responsibility to prepare for an emergency rescue. It might save your life and/or equipment, the first responder can act more efficiently, and you can live more confidently because you have prepared.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for what you think will never happen:
- Recognize that emergency rescuers are more interested in saving lives than equipment, but that, if possible, they will rescue your equipment. Do not waste time demanding equipment rescue when you are taken from the emergency.
- Place an identifying marker on your wheelchair or other equipment. A reunion is then possible if you become separated from your equipment.
- Familiarize yourself with stair rescue chairs that might be used to transport you up or down stairs. Internet pictures and descriptions will help you feel more comfortable if you need rescue.
- Carry identity card and personal information on your person at all times rather than on your wheelchair, as your equipment may not be rescued with you.
- If you are non verbal or have multiple disabilities, carry a card that says, “My name is ____________. I am _(blind, deaf, unable to speak, paralyzed, can’t swallow, etc)___________________. I need________________________. This enables a quicker response and is also handy when trying to communicate in other situations.
- Place a vial of life in your refrigerator. The vial has emergency information and medication lists, and with the vial comes a sticker for your front door that lets an emergency responder quickly assess the situation. Order vial of life on line. An alternate information tool is the emergency wheel that gives a responder information about your needs. These are available free from www.ehmi.org or www.ready.gov. If you have a caregiver, post a picture of yourself in a plastic bag on the refrigerator next to the emergency wheel. This quickly tells an emergency responder who is to be given first consideration.
- Keep a flashlight handy at all times. The Green Glo flashlight http://www.lifegearcompany.com or www.target.com has saved many lives. It has a flasher and a built in whistle. Take it with you when rescued. If you have seizures, do not use the flasher unless it is an extreme emergency.
- Do not get separated from your cell phone – a direct line to emergency help. Program 911 into quick dial.
- Renew your oxygen sign in the front window of your house or apartment. Replace cardboard ones with plastic that does not fade.
- If you use a power chair and are in a dry rescue, remember to tuck the small battery charger into a back pocket of your chair otherwise you will be “dead in the water” so to speak.
- Keep a ready to go, labeled, grab-it “Go Bag” that is stocked with water, snacks and other necessities. It is unrealistic to stock it with medications, but keep a list of them in the Go Bag along with a change of clothes, and insurance information, names of persons to be contacted and doctor’s names. Keep the Go Bag, undisturbed and at the same location where you can find it and a rescuer can grab it quickly in an emergency.
- If you have limited mobility, after rescue, do not allow a first responder to place you on the ground where you are not visible. This is where injuries occur. If you are left in a non-visible place, turn on your Green Glo flashlight to the blinker.
- If you have mental illness or seizures, tell your rescuer that flashing lights and/or sirens may make you melt down or have a seizure. They can often turn off sirens and flashing lights or move you to a calmer location.
If you are taken in an ambulance, tell the rescuer that, if possible, you need to be reunited with your mobility equipment and tell them what it is and that your name is on it.