Ask The First Responder: Part 1
Have you ever wondered if, in an emergency, your medical ID jewelry really would come in handy? Ever wonder what information EMTs really need to see on your ID? We sat down with Jeremy, a Lauren’s Hope customer, father of two girls with epilepsy, and an Engineer with Santa Barbara City Fire, and asked just that.
Lauren's Hope: From a firefighter perspective, as a first responder, is a medical ID one of the first things you check for as you’re triaging someone?
Jeremy: Yes. If they’re unconscious, yes, that’s extremely important.
LH: What information do you get from that when you have a nonresponsive, unconscious person? What difference does that make in the outcome of a given situation?
J: It really speeds up the decision-making process [as we] try to, One: See what the problem is, and, Two: Try to correct it. If it’s something as simple as diabetes, if we give someone sugar, in less than a minute, they can be sitting up and talking to us. But if we don’t know they have diabetes, there’s a longer process to go through to try to find out … what’s going on. One of the most important things is patient history, and any medical problems that are on that bracelet are huge clues [as we’re determining] what’s going on with that person.
LH: Before our interview, you mentioned that your wife, Julie, wears medical ID jewelry when she’s running, but she has no medical issues. Why do you feel it’s important for her to wear an ICE (In Case of Emergency) ID?
J: I bought Julie one for when she’s running. [The ICE ID] has her name, my name, it says she doesn’t have any allergies, and it has my phone number. I think it’s important for people that are biking or running or out there by themselves to have some sort of identification. And the phone number is really handy too, because if she gets hurt, they can call me. [As a firefighter], I’ve called husbands and wives on calls before and, One: It’s great that the loved one knows what’s going on, and, Two: They might be able to help [inform us about] any other issues they might have going on, and then they can meet [their loved one] at the hospital.
LH: What makes wearing a Lauren’s Hope medical ID important for your daughters?
J: Both of my girls (ages 5 and 9) have epilepsy. It’s a really small form called absent seizures. It’s where they just kind of zone out for a few seconds at a time. My youngest did have a long one a little while ago while I was at work and they called 911 and all that.
It’s important to have [the bracelet] because if it happens at school or somewhere, if the people … notice the bracelet, they can know there’s a history of seizures. When the fire department and medics show up, knowing that there’s a history of seizures, and that it’s not a new event, is huge. It’s extremely important in that it tells you something totally different if it’s a new event of a seizure. Then they’re thinking head trauma and other issues. But if it’s … in their history, and they’re on medication and all of that, it’s not as big of an emergency as if it were the first one.
LH: As a parent, do you find it difficult to have children with medical issues in the school system? Are the staff members properly trained?
J: It’s a challenge. School personnel overreact a lot to it because epilepsy can be extremely violent, but at the same time, if it’s a known deal, then as soon as it’s over, the kid is fine. Obviously, if you don’t see it very often, it’s a scary thing to see and you call the world. Personally, I’d rather have them err on the side of safety than not call, but a lot of times they overreact and they’ll try to hold a kid down. All you really need to do is kind of let it happen and be there when they come to. Try to keep them from hurting themselves. You don’t need to make it worse by holding them down or sticking something in their mouths. There needs to be a lot more education about it.
LH: What would you tell people who see that happening with a child? What’s the appropriate thing to do?
J: The appropriate thing, if they have a drop seizure where they just drop, or they have a grand mall where they continue shaking, if you can help them to the ground, help them to the ground. Cushion their head if they’re banging their head and just let them go through it. And then once they’re done, they’re going to be kind of – they call it postictal – they’ll be really confused and not all there for a little while, and then they’ll slowly come out of it. Just be there, and wait for them to come out of it, and explain what happened to them, and just keep talking to them until they’re back to normal.