I called 9-1-1 today — not the emergency number itself but the non-emergency number of the local Fire Department, the organization providing local 9-1-1 responses. I’d been wondering for some time if an ambulance I called would take me to the hospital of my choice or only to the nearest ER (which happens to be a hospital where I would not want to be a patient).
The answer was logical. In a cardiac or breathing emergency, if I’m not stable, I’ll be taken to the nearest hospital ASAP. If I’m stable enough for a longer drive, they’ll take me where I want to go (my preferred hospital and my doctor are 17 miles from my home).
But even more important, I was given this tip: In my cell phone directory, add an entry for ICE — an acronym for In Case of Emergency, and list whatever number, name, and notes my phone will accommodate. Local first responders at accident scenes are trained to check cell phones for the ICE listing. The ICE thing started in England several years ago and spread to the U.S. More information, and ICE stickers for your phone, if you want them, are available here. I’ve already ICE’d my cell phone.
Another thing the dispatcher mentioned was the Vial of Life Project. I’d never heard of it either, but I plan to implement it, too. It sounds particularly important for older people who live alone. It identifies and keeps essential medical information where first responders can find it.
We also discussed how responders would get into the house if I managed to call them but couldn’t get to my always-locked door, something I’ve always worried about. She said the dispatcher would always stay on the line with me after I called, and I could give directions to, say, a key hidden outside (which I have), or the code to the garage door opener if the inner door is unlocked (which it is), or to an open window, or, if all else fails, to the cheapest place to break in. “Don’t worry,” she assured me. “They WILL get in.”
All of this was good to learn. If you have any questions about what will happen in case of an emergency, don’t wait for an emergency. Find a non-emergency number for the fire department or whomever and call for information now.
Don’t you just love hearing what little old ladies worry about?