Saturday, January 5, 2008

In Case of Emergency - Lessons from Others - Helping Your Neighbors

Okay, time for a real life story....and a lesson in not being prepared.

If you have elderly or infirm neighbors or your relatives who are out of town rely on their neighbors for some day to day assistance with living...this may be for you.

Many of our older folks living alone in their homes on sometimes meager resources and barely managing - usually will have medical issues. When those issues become critical and require emergency medical intervention, there may be little warning or time to do much except call for help (911) and await the ambulance or fire department rescue. That is best case and what we have come to expect nowadays.

If you are not a relative or the executor of the estate, but one needs to be located - what better way than to have both a COMPLETED ICE Card and Emergency Info Form on hand ready to go. If you don't, and you are relying on that undated scrap of paper stuck on a cork board or basket with some barely legible names and numbers on it - you are in for an unpleasant experience indeed.

If you are not a particularly patient or resourceful type or have limitations of your own, there may be some choice words expressed during this urgent time. You will be upset about why there was so little preparation - or - that the information you did have was not VERIFIED or updated. Why? Because then YOU will have to go searching for people you may have no clue about. There is nothing as disconcerting as contacting a disconnected number or transposed phone number. More below...

So, here's the drill ... your elderly neighbor(s) may have some pride left and be highly resistant to your seemingly intrusive efforts to help them be prepared AHEAD OF TIME with having the proper medical/contact info on hand and making sure the contact numbers are indeed correct.

Your first approach will be to advise your neighbor/friend that if they want YOU to be of any use during an emergency, then they have to help YOU (or a stranger) have this info readily available and up to date.

If the soft touch doesn't work, then you may have to take a more aggressive approach to getting things done and insist on having these preparations in place. Time to set the pride aside for a moment and engage some tough love.

If you are going to be the one called upon to help, then take the 10-15 minutes NOW to get everything in order so you don't spend hours later attempting to locate relatives and important/vital info. These things always seem to happen when you least expect or desire them to happen - thus the term emergency. Maybe you are a kind gentle soul that can drop everything and come running.....and for this we applaud you...but many people today are so self-absorbed (aka selfish) and just plain unavailable...that you have to get this process done.

Worst case, if you need to contact the operator for phone assistance - you may be disappointed because without certain info your search will be unproductive - phone listings are updated daily and there is no way to access archival records. You can access land line phone number listings via your cell phone but it is the same service.

You CANNOT locate a person's cell phone number or have an operator from a wireless service contact a subscriber in an emergency.

Now can you see the VALUE in getting this contact preparation done beforehand? Because when you really need to get info, you will most likely have problems.....

Just got off the phone with AT&T and dropped a dime about them providing such an emergency service for non-police/ems/fire but don't hold your hand on your behind waiting for it. 911 and police have access - you don't - and for very good reason. You will have to let the police do this - and of course in a disaster situation do you really think this will be the first priority? No.

Here is another kicker...the people I have contacted at the various wireless phone services - never heard of ICE. Comforting isn't it?
Maybe the person I spoke with today in Tennessee will read this and pass it along to some functionary at the company who can actually make something happen. Verizon and Vodaphone already have.....get on the stick AT&T and you other providers.......

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