Be prepared in case of a medical emergency

This was originally published on Monday, June 2, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Question: I recently had a friend who had a serious medical emergency. She is doing much better, but was unprepared for this situation. This has me thinking of what I need to do in case a medical emergency happens to me. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: I am pleased to hear that your friend is doing better. Medical emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Many don’t plan and find themselves in a position that goes against their wishes, especially when they cannot communicate. Being prepared for them takes a little planning, but it’s worth it. Your plan should include procedures for minor emergencies to the worst case — passing away. Create a file and put it in a safe place. Your emergency contact also should get a copy of the file. Your file should contain:

• Medical information: This information also should be kept in a place that is easily found in your home, your car and in your wallet. Let those that are your “in case of emergency” contacts know exactly where your information and legal documents are. The information should contain:

• Your name, age and gender;

• Who to contact in case of emergency or next of kin;

• Your insurance company name, phone number and policy;

• A list of the medications you take and the dosage;

• Any medical conditions you may have;

• Previous surgeries;

• Name and phone numbers of your primary care provider and clinic. If you see a specialist, include that information as well;

• Name and phone numbers of religious leaders or place of worship;

• Any allergies or dietary restrictions; and

• Your blood type.

This information should be kept updated as your health changes. If you have children, create a sheet for them. Keep a copy with you and place one in their school bag, wallet or purse. If you have a serious condition or allergies, use a medical ID bracelet or dog tag to identify your condition. Look online for templates of credit card-sized information templates you can fill out and print.

• Important documents: A copy of these documents may be needed to check you into a hospital:

• Identification cards (driver’s license, Guam ID, military ID, student ID, etc.);

• Your birth certificate;

• A copy of your passport;

• Your health insurance card;

• Updated immunization card;

• Social Security card;

• Letter of instruction or living will; and

• Funeral and burial plans.

On your phone, create an ICE “In Case of Emergency” contact. I was able to do this on my Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. This acronym is recognized by first responders. Research online how your phone can be programed to create an ICE contact. This contact should be able to be viewed without having to unlock the phone. Whatever contact you choose will show up on the Emergency Call List, even if your phone is locked.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at  moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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