The Vial of Life

Today while out doing a few errands we met up with a local Fire & EMS worker. We struck up a chat for a bit about Service Dogs. During the conversation he asked if our vest contained a pouch or compartment. I mentioned we were thinking about getting a new vest soon, as my service dog is starting to outgrow his current vest.

The Fire & EMS worker brought up a valid point and mentioned getting a vest one with a pouch (or attachment) so that we could include our emergency contact information on the service dog as well as me, just in case we were ever separated, for whatever reason. It also meant that ever my service dog or I were hurt or if we had to be sent to different emergency places for care; staff would know whom to contact for each of us.

Prior to my disability I worked in the medical field as well and quite familiar with the importance of the “Vial of Life.” Ah yes! – A highly trained dog such as this and yet there is no info specifically on the dog, other than his required Tags, Microchip# and GPS. Patches, Glow sticks, whistle, first-aid, How could I not have any additional info on him? <Ugh>

I do in fact have a pouch; it is hanging on my purse with all our pertinent info inside it. However, this gentle reminder also came at a time during of great transition for me, we are moving soon, undergoing a relationship breakup, family member is not well either, all this means there are changes in our caretaker and kenneling info and a reminder to me that should something happen to me, for whatever reason; auto accident, health issue, or especially right now with so much Covid19 around, I need to update my health-care proxy info as well, if ever I am unable to speak or make decisions on my behalf, and even to make decisions about the long-term care or rehoming of my service dog, should I die unexpectedly.

Yes - Service Dogs are allowed in hospitals and ambulances to accompany their handlers, but ONLY if the patient is able to care for the dog. If they have to go to the Operating Room, or are unconscious, or in the ICU due to the current Covid19 Pandemic, the hospital will have to contact a family member or a kennel to hold your dog until such a time as you can make arrangements or able to care for your service dog. There are also the logistics of getting food, medication and taking your dog out to relieve him/herself while admitted to a hospital or medical facility. Be sure you have a plan, along with a small set aside fund and a backup person as well as your main contact person.

Admittedly, as a disabled person, about to be living alone, for safety reasons I was concerned about having too much personal info readily available to the general public should it happen to fall into the wrong hands. Our new friend the Fire & EMS worker recommended to just having the basics readily available for Fire & EMS workers, such as:

For the Service Dog

Name of the Dog

Name and Contact info of Current Veterinarian

List of Medications & any known Allergies (i.e. Meds, foods, etc.)

Name of a Caretaker or Kennel Provider

What Tasks the Dog Helps you with (i.e. Autism, Diabetes, Mobility, etc.)

Any special commands to help EMS (i.e. Heels on my left side)

Any pertinent Info (i.e. Go-Bag in trunk of vehicle)

For the Handler

Name of Your Current Primary Care Doctor

List of Medications & any known Allergies (i.e. Meds, foods, etc.)

Personal Contact Person on your Behalf (current phone#)

A copy of your Health Care Proxy if not in your medical files on record

Any other pertinent info. (i.e. epi-pen in backpack, key location, etc.)

Do not assume all your records are up-to-date; be sure your cards are.

There are many varieties of kits available, you can use a recycled pill bottle for at home to keep a copy in your refrigerator, backpack or in a go-bag. Sometimes you can obtain wallet cards from your PCP, or order a kit online.