The Long Distance Rider's is in many ways like BCSB or any other Forum in that there are occasionally brilliantly written pieces of vital information shared by people who are in the know on a particular subject.
Over the past week there has been a dialogue on the list regarding the carrying of one's key medical information one one's person. The majority of the list participant's are American and, as such, the discussion applies to the US Medical system, however with so many of us riding in the States I though that this might be of value to the list.
It would be interesting to hear from any individuals on the list and have them add their comments on how the technology of personally carried medical files is dealt with in BC or other Provinces. I would ask that before you give advice or make comments directly related to one carrying one's medical records on their person that they identify themselves by profession to validate their credentials .
I.E, I am a Trama Nurse in Prince George, I am a ER Physician at St. Paul's, I am an EHS Attendant on an ALS Car, etc
I have redacted the individual's name from this post but I can vouch for their authenticity.
I figured I may as well reply here as I've had a couple of folks ask off-list about data on USB drives, and why I feel it may not be as useful as one would hope.
To help put things into perspective, my background is in Information Technology. More specifically, I'm the Team Lead for the IT guys in the hospital that come and fix stuff when the nurse calls the help desk and says "the computer is broken". I'm the project lead for installing new PC hardware in patient areas, or anywhere else, I help run the local IT department, and I'm the one telling folks that no, we can not install their video game for
them, or unblock Youtube and Netflix.
My docs and nurses see a lot of ER patients. I have access throughout the entire facility, I can see what patients are transported in with (not much usually), I've seen first hand how chaotic a trauma room is with a case on the gurney, and I've seen how chaotic the nurses' station is when there is a trauma case in the ER.
Some folks have mentioned RoadID, perhaps as an alternative. I think they are a great product, and I will be buying RoadID devices before my next long distance trip. Similar devices exist in other formats, such as "The ICE Device" (http://www.theicedevice.com/ - disclaimer, I use these myself, but have no stake in the company). This device, ones like it, and Road ID are good types of items for several reasons:
1: they are right there on you.
2: just about any computer with a working internet connection and a web browser can lookup your RoadID information. Heck, a smartphone could do it now.
3: it's easy to have multiple copies of the item (I have an ICE thing on my jacket zipper, in my pants pocket, on my keys, hanging from my tank bag,one in my riding boot, and one on a lanyard around my neck.)
As is the nature of this sport, many of us have had the unfortunate instance to witness an accident. Some of us have tried to be helpful to our injured friend, and gathered up tank bags, jackets, bikes, keys, that sort of thing. Any Medical ID information on those items, unless you knew to look for it, remove it, and hand it to a first responder, is now
potentially GONE and will probably not make it to the Emergency Room. With any luck, your friend was wearing a RoadID bracelet, or had some other information on his person, and someone in the Ambulance or ER was able to look at it, or they were coherent.
When my wife crashed her motorcycle, neither of us used any sort of medical information device. I was the first responder on site, stabilized her, and waited for the ambulance. She was conscious the entire time, she and I both were able to provide medical information, and as they loaded her up, I put her riding jacket, gloves and helmet in my hardbags, and followed her to the hospital once I finished dealing with the police department and the
wrecker. When I got to the Hospital 20 minutes after her arrival, her riding pants were gone, her boots were gone, her shirt was gone, she didn't even have her wallet. I had to ask for them, and after several minutes of looking, we found it all in a bag shoved in the corner of her room - they had all been removed and cut off and stuffed inside the bag while being transported.
Not one single person had bothered to look inside any of the pockets or the wallet for any information.
They kept asking my wife about insurance, and all she could say was "my card is in my wallet, but I don't know where that is". It was an eyeopening experience for me - what if she had passed out, or was otherwise incapacitated? What if it were me, solo, incapacitated? So all that's bad enough and it's nothing you didn't already know, but now let's examine why I am hesitant about USB drives, and why I feel that you currently should NOT rely on them completely, which is why you're really reading this.
As I mentioned earlier, I do IT work at the hospital. My team is responsible for the computers at the nurse stations, the mobile laptop cart that the doctor wheels around, and the computer in the ER Treatment room. You'd think that's a lot of USB slots, but it's really not. The laptop cart that the doc is rolling around? Well, the laptop is locked inside,
protected from spills, theft, and most other nasty stuff that can fly around in an ER, with just a standard keyboard and mouse hanging out for him to use. The PCs in the treatment rooms? Those are locked up too, as a theft and staff safety preventative (yes, people have attacked hospital staff with a PC chassis), with only the keyboard and mouse accessible to
the user, and the screen locked away behind shatterproof glass. So, there
goes those options.
That leaves the computers at the nurses stations. To comply with recent regulations, these are likely mounted to a small bracket up off the floor, high on a wall, or buried underneath and at the back of the desk so it's not in the way. It can be physically difficult, if not impossible, for a doc or nurse to actually plug in a USB key.
Now, assuming you did get an RN or an EMT or a Doctor who A: found your USB drive, and B: was able to take a few minutes out to find a place to plug it in... will he or she be able to actually use the data?
If you didn't save it all in a TXT file, maybe not. Major hospital corporations jump through so many unbelievably complex software licensing, software interoperability, and application support hoops, that the software you may take for granted as being on everyone's PC, may in fact not be installed on the PC at the ER where you are receiving treatment. True story - our official, -corporate wide, "this is included with a freshly imaged Windows 7 x64 PC, and you better not install anything else without good reason"... browser is IE 8. We have a mission critical software vendor who will refuse to support their product unless a several year old, insecure version of Java - and ONLY that version of Java - is installed on the
workstation. A couple of years ago, my division was still working to install MS Word and Excel readers on all PCs. Until recently, there was no PDF reader installed on PCs by default.
All this is to say, if you want to go the USB route, I PERSONALLY think it's a great idea - I'm just not sure I'd be willing to bet my life on it just yet. Now, as more and more people do this, as more people become aware of these options... it will become more common and more nurses and doctors and EMTs will be looking for this type of stuff.
My suggestion? Get a USB key similar to this one
You want rugged: no moving parts, no plastic, small, and unlikely to die if it gets wet in a rainstorm while on a chain around your neck. Get a red Sharpie and draw a big red cross on one flat side of it. Write MED INFO on the other. Put all your important information in a .TXT file. Name it something obvious, like MED_INFO.TXT. Add a recent picture of your face as
a .JPG file, and maybe a scan of your Insurance ID Card and Passport as a JPG if you're feeling fancy. Check the drawing and writing a couple times a year to make sure it's not wearing off. Check the document and anything else you've put on there a couple of times a year to make sure it all still opens, and that the drive itself hasn't died.
In the mean time, I carry the ICE Device, I'll be getting a RoadID, and I'll be carrying a USB key around my neck. Yes, you can call me paranoid.
I hope this is helpful in some way, to someone. Thanks for the bandwidth.