A key thing to be aware of when providing care is allergies, as well as any preexisting medical conditions. If you are providing care for someone you know or someone who is in a group with you, chances are you know any pertinent history and allergies (if you don’t that means you should ask before you do something with that person or group of people). It’s a simple question really, “hey are you allergic to anything?” or “hey do you have any medical problems I should be aware of?” In the case of providing care to someone you don’t know, there’s really two ways to get the important info. First one is simple, ask them. Here’s the catch. This only works if they are AO (alert and oriented) and really works best if they are AOX4. With unresponsive or unaware patients you can check for MedAlert tags. These tags are often work by people with serious allergies or medical conditions. These are typically found on bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. If you do your patient exam correctly you should find them, however it might b worth the extra 30 seconds to check for the tage sooner so you can get a better handle on the situation. In addition to MedAlert tags, there are many other things that can provide insight into a persons pertinent medical history. RoadID’s are popular in the running and biking community. These are often found on shoes and also wrists. They contain emergency contacts, name, age, and serious medical issues. With the prevelance of smartphones, they too have become forms of medical identification. There are many apps for both Apple and android devices. Most notably, in the iOS 8 update Apple recently came out with. In this update Apple unveiled its health app which among other things contains a medical ID section. Getting to it is simple. Hit the emergency button in the lock screen of the phone, in the lower left corner you will see a small star of life labeled “medical ID”. Here you will find, depending on what the phones user put in to the app, age, weight, height, age, emergency contacts, allergies, and medical conditions. So don’t be afraid to go through pockets, check phones and wallets. As long as you don’t take anything, you’re protected. Knowing a persons medical history can be a matter of life and death. You have to know what you are dealing with.
Adam Froehlich, VP Wilderness Medicine