Something so simple as a bright red sticky square decal stuck on a plastic bag and taped on the inside of a refrigerator door could save lives.
As high-tech emergency remedies ranging from ultra-sophisticated hospital equipment to wearable alarm systems proliferate, a basic yet tangible alert program has been launched by women at an Oil City church.
It is called the Vial of L.I.F.E. (Lifesaving Information For Emergencies) and consists of a small plastic bag, a single sheet of paper and a bright red square of adhesive paper.
It is designed to provide vital lifesaving information to emergency responders, family members and others who are trying to assist an adult or child in danger.
The grab-and-go bag has a sticker on the outside and a medical information form inside. The packet is then stuck on the inside of your refrigerator door and a matching red Vial of L.I.F.E. sticker is placed on your front door.
The program outline says the refrigerator door placement was deliberately chosen because the appliance is a common item in a household and is relatively unscathed during a fire or flood.
The intent is for a first responder or family member to know exactly where pertinent medical and personal information is located in order to better help an individual experiencing a medical emergency.
The paper form inserted into the bag asks for information regarding name and address, physical description (height, weight, blood type), religion, primary language, hearing/vision difficulties, identifying marks, current and past medical conditions, current medications, allergies, physician's name and phone number, special instructions (health directives), insurance policy and emergency contact names and numbers.
Church launches project
Women of the Second Presbyterian Church started the project by providing seed money to purchase the bags, print the forms and order the red stickers. They are currently assembling the packets for free distribution to municipalities, senior housing complexes, fire departments and other organizations.
The aim is to produce 15,500 packets at a cost of about 25 cents per packet. That translates into about a $4,000 overall cost.
Service clubs, churches, businesses and individuals are being asked to help pay for the program. Tax-deductible contributions for the Vial of L.I.F.E. project may be made to the Bridge Builders Community Foundation at 206 Seneca St., Oil City.
'Lives will be saved'
Oil City fire chief Mark Hicks noted in a letter to the foundation that he believes the program would be "very beneficial" to county residents.
"Incidents occur that often leave the victim unresponsive or unable to speak due to a stroke or diabetic problem," he wrote. "(Or), possibly a car accident or fire has injured the person bad enough that they are unable to provide life-saving information."
The Vial of L.I.F.E. initiative would give first responders immediate access to information regardless of an individual's condition, he said. The individual could be an elderly resident or a child with medical issues, he said.
"This program is simple with no electronic devices needed and will most likely be utilized by an elderly population that might not be tech savvy. And for the first responders, the information isn't protected by a password or code in order to access information like other programs," said Hicks.
The chief said he believes "lives will be saved because of it."
The packets will be distributed at various sites throughout the county.
The materials are now in place at Oil City city hall, Franklin city hall, the Sugarcreek Borough municipal building and the Cranberry Township municipal building.