Forms could help paramedics in emergency

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A nonprofit organization is distributing forms that can provide paramedics with vital information when they respond to homes.

The medical information form designed by volunteers at the AARP Alaska information center will help people create a medical profile for emergency situations.

AARP, the national organization for people 50 and older, is providing forms free to whomever wants them, no matter their age.

The forms come with a special envelope labeled ''emergency medical information'' in large red letters and attached to a magnet, so the form can be tucked inside and stuck on a refrigerator.

The Anchorage Fire Department helped with the forms and endorses the project, said Deputy Chief Craig Goodrich. ''Absolutely,'' he said.

People may have no trouble talking about medical ailments in casual conversation, he said.

''But when things turn sour and you get adrenaline rushing or their spouse is down, it is a different story,'' he said.

Sometimes the simplest information can be extremely important, said Mike Crotty, who recently became an Anchorage battalion chief after nearly 20 years as a front line firefighter-paramedic.

Does the stroke patient take a daily aspirin? Treatment at the hospital will differ depending on the answer. Is the heart attack patient on Viagra? If so, a medicine commonly given to combat a heart attack could be deadly.

Medics already know to check the fridge, the bathroom and the coffee table for medicines and information, Crotty said. Sometimes, they'll grab the prescription bottles and take them along.

''We'll find medicines scattered here and there and have to put the picture together,'' he said.

The new form also includes space for people to include information about advance directives such as living wills or the Comfort One program, which allows people to refuse resuscitation.

Medics want to follow those instructions but have to see them to do so, Crotty said.

The idea for the project began when Rita Hatch, volunteer coordinator of the AARP information center, had a medical emergency of her own. Medics asked so many questions, she realized it would have been helpful to have all the information written in one spot.

After volunteers crafted a draft form, medics and Providence Alaska Medical Center helped fine-tune it.

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