Patricia Manning and her mother Rosealie Inglis are stocking their fridge with Vials of Life.
They feel a little more secure knowing their medical history and a list of current medications is tucked safely in the door of their refrigerator, and paramedics know exactly where to look for it.
The Vial of Life is a program delivered in partnership with the Simcoe County Paramedic Association and Medichair, a Barrie-based company that sells home medical equipment and mobility products.
The Vial of Life is to be kept in the top right hand shelf of the refrigerator.
A kit is available free and includes a sheet of paper where people can record all their medical information and a pill bottle to keep it in. A magnet notifying paramedics that the Vial of Life is inside is displayed on the refrigerator door.
The sheet of paper tells paramedics everything they need to know about a patient’s existing medical conditions, current medications and drug allergies if the patient is unable to communicate.
Paramedic and association board member Janel Perron said when attending a call, the first thing paramedics do is check the patient, then one paramedic will go and look for medications and the Vial of Life if there is one in the home.
Perron said there is probably tens of thousands of the packages in use in Simcoe County considering anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 are given out each year and the program has already been running for several years.
Perron said just last week, he and his partner responded to a call and benefited from the information contained in the Vial of Life.
"The person wasn’t able to communicate all of the information that we needed, she was unable to speak more than two words at a time and we located the vial and all of her detailed history was right there which was very helpful to us," said Perron.
He said, as an example, when responding to a patient experiencing cardiac chest pain, paramedics are only able to administer nitroglycerin if the patient has received it before, unless one of the paramedics on scene has IV – intervenes – training. Perron said the protocol is in place because it is such a strong medication it may have an adverse affect on the patient unless there is a history of the use of that drug.
Manning and Inglis live together in Wasaga Beach.
They recently learned of the Vial of Life program during a visit to Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.
Due to various illnesses, paramedics were recently called to their home three times in two weeks to treat Inglis, who is 99 years old.
When the third call to paramedics was made, Inglis’ Vial of Life was filled out and in the fridge.
Manning was there and could communicate with the paramedics on behalf of her mother but she said having the information at her fingertips really helped.
"When you are upset and excited it’s hard to remember," said Manning.
She said the Vial of Life was used to help check her mother into the hospital and when Manning arrived all she had to do was sign the admission papers.
"But not only is it a time saver, it can be a lifesaver," said Manning.
The program is open to anyone but is particularly useful for people who have a serious drug or food allergy, any medical conditions or are taking prescribed medication.
Perron said the Vial of Life program is under review and Simcoe County Paramedics may need to ask people for a small donation to cover the cost of the program. He said clinics are being planned for May but details have not been finalized.
"I think every household should have one," said Manning.
"It’s a must," said Inglis.