Tuesday, November 28, 2023


From our readers: Preparing for a medical emergency

By Chuck Woodbury
I wrote last week about Gail taking a nasty fall in our campground, slamming her head on concrete. Read that post here.

Before going on: Gail has recovered. The black and blue around her eye is almost gone.

However. . . many of you suggested I should have called 911. I chose not to because I was able to get her to an urgent care facility faster than an ambulance could even get to us. If I were in or close to a city, I probably would have called for help. Looking back now, I don’t know if I did the right thing or just got lucky.

Many of you commented about how you have prepared for a similar (or, heaven forbid worse) emergency. One common bit of advice was to always know the location of the nearest hospital or urgent care facility to your campsite.

I personally want to thank all of you who responded. Gail and I have now put together a plan that may help us in the future, even save a life.

Your comments:

“Since I use a blood thinner I always carry hemostatic pads (blood clotting pads). Could be a lifesaver if you need to stop serious bleeding.”
Dennis D.

“Garmin GPS has a tab for Hospital.”

“I also used the Garmin GPS to find an ER in Napa California. Unfortunately, the closest ER was a maternity-only hospital. That would have been good information to know before I wasted time going there. I now call ahead to verify the location and to make sure the E/R can help me when out of town.”
Jane S. 

“I have a paper copy of meds, medical history and any pertinent info in my purse and one in a basket. My husband has a printed list of my meds in his wallet. GPS should be able to take you to the closest hospital or clinic. You should always know the name of your RV park, the address, and your site number for any emergency that may arise. One of the first things we do after parking and setting up is to put the coordinates for the park in our GPS. You never know when you might have to leave for an emergency. It is nice to know you can get back to the RV.”
Marcia L. 

“If you keep your medical information on your phone make sure your partner or someone else (if possible) knows your password if you keep it locked.”
Kom D. 

“As 20-year EMTs, we carry a huge aid kit. We have all our medical history in envelopes in the car, truck, and 5th wheel.”
Dick O. 

“I have a print out of all our medications. We both keep an updated copy in our purse so all I have to do at any medical facility is to pull it out and hand to them. We also have the quantity of the medication we take each day.”
Don N. 

“I keep a Word Doc with all insurance info, emergency contacts, all past surgeries, all meds and all doctors. It’s updated every time something changes and we carry it with us all the time.”
Greyhound Express

“As a single, female RVer, I make sure I have my medical info in multiple places in case of emergency; my cell phone “Emergency” button, in my contacts under “ICE” (which stands for “in case of emergency”), photo’s of my Rx containers and doctor business cards in “Photos”, and a hard copy of all info in a folder labeled “Important Papers”. Folder also has the medical records of my pets.”
Vicki D. 

“I always wear my Medical Alert necklace or bracelet, even around home. It has my name, birth date, blood type, allergies and a contact name and phone number. This would be helpful, even for couples, because they’re not always together 24 hours a day and an emergency could occur during this time of temporary separation.”
Glenda A. 

“I have an app installed on my Android phone called ICE – In Case of Emergency that pops up on my phone’s lock screen. It allows emergency personnel to view Who to Call, ID & Insurance info Allergies, Conditions, and Medications. You enter the information so if you’re nervous about exposing personal information you can just leave it out. The program also allows the caregiver to select from 13 different languages. There are several apps that are similar. Just make sure the app works on the lock screen and then it doesn’t matter if your phone is locked or not.” 
Greg T. 

“My wife and I have small waterproof thumb drives on dog tag chains around our necks (or, in her case for vanity, sometimes in her purse). The documents on the thumb drives contain all of our contact information, medications, allergies, care providers and insurance information, pertinent medical records, and blood type. All information is in both doc. and pdf. format. We call them our “digital dog tags”.”
-Dick H. 

“I always keep 3 days of our medication in a small pill box in my purse. Came in handy when hubby had a motorcycle accident and I raced from work for an overnight hospital stay.”
Candace W. 

“My mom just broke her hip and all us kids soon discovered that none of us had a medical power of attorney for her. So when she needed a blood transfusion while she was still in the hospital and my dad was away at an appointment, I couldn’t give the legal OK to the nurse. She couldn’t agree to it herself since she was on a lot of pain medicine and not aware of what was happening. So I had to keep calling dad until he picked up the phone to give a verbal OK to two nurses. Is there such a thing as a temporary medical power of attorney while you’re traveling? I don’t know, but if you’re traveling with someone that’s not your legal spouse, you’ll want to research this.”
Mike S. 


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodburyhttps://rvtravel.com
I'm the founder and publisher of RVtravel.com. I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Jim Piper, RN (@guest_24895)
5 years ago

I read “A trip to the emergency room and what it taught me” before continuing through this post. First of all, ANY head injury where the victim loses consciousness even for a moment and doens’t remember the event should be transported to an ER by EMS checked out in an ER — not by POV (privately owned vehicle) and NEVER to a ‘Doc in the Box’! Urgent care clinics are NOT equipped to handle life threatening injuries and will likely forward an injury victim to an ER. Mr. Woodbury, with all due respect, you got v-e-r-y lucky. Though a head injury where the victim remains conscious might appear to be relatively ok — despite the significant blood from a scalp laceration — can develop into serious trauma in short order.

It might seem that you can make it to a medical facility faster than an EMS responder can. Paramedics are equipped to handle trauma. In settings relatively distant (time wise) from an ER. EMS has the knowledge and all the toys in their vehicle in case something goes south during transport. EMS responders will likely call in an air ambulance. Don’t take chances. I recommend joining an air ambulance service (e.g., AIrMedCare that is partnered with several companies. Family membership is cheap, they have large service areas, and they accept whatever payment your insurance plan offers.

I further highly recommend taking an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) course such as the American Red Cross offers. It is advanced first aid as it should be. Not just a “how to put on a band-aid and dial 911” course. Don’t take a chance. Be prepared to see to your family’s emergency medical needs. I liken it to that fire extinguisher you have in the galley of your RV: there when you need it!

Terry (@guest_20663)
5 years ago

Carry a copy of your Advance Directive (living will), etc, along with your medical documents. As an Provider, I do not need every page if your med records! What I need is your current med list that includes dosages, recent stopped/completed meds ( may still be in your system!), allergies and intolerances (and what happens), special/preferred diet, religious restrictions for diet/health decisions, and the AD that has specific details as to what you would/not agree to if you could communicate with us.
FYI: helpful to carry a Triage reference for what constitutes an emergency, when to be calling paramedics /EMTs/police or when it’s ok to be driven to a facility.
I’m considering doing mobile Medical service in areas where we came & am licensed, specifically for campers who desire refills and interim/episodic care ( bumps, rashes, etc. )…

Terty (@guest_20665)
5 years ago
Reply to  Terry

And your diagnoses, major surgeries, of course

Gary GentG (@guest_20144)
5 years ago

Chuck, I travel as a single. Previous comments on this post are all well and good. Last October I was by myself on an expansive BLM, LTVA and had to call 911 for an ambulance. In the middle of the night, no adjacent neighbors, no site markers and no official road/trail markings. REMEMBER to give 911 operator the best directions possible (distance, and general directions from main entrance from area entrance AND AT NIGHT advise that RV markers emergency flashers will be ON. Makes finding you much easier and quicker. If you have someone who can wait for the ambulance and lead them to your location, that is even better!

Lorin (@guest_20045)
5 years ago

I’m sorry this happened but I’m glad she’s ok. As a FTer with failing health at 44, I keep everything on a single printed document. Things just change too often to take pictures and keep a bottle of everything accessible. I keep the document in an empty pill bottle in my purse with “Records” written on it in marker. I wear a bracelet that says “Records in purse” on it.

Quick note, I also discovered Pill Pack, a pharmacy that handles refills and packages the meds up in little packets and ships me a month at a time. They’ll charge your shipping address as often as needed. It’s so much easier than refilling my 15 meds all over the country. Just an idea for those in the same boat.

Steve Barnes, Kamloops, B.C. (@guest_19991)
5 years ago

My suggestion, epics pictures of med list, the actual medicine bottles (shows name, Dr., dosage, frequency, date and drug name), drivers license, pic of your history typed, ALL OF THESE FOR BOTH OF YOU, your phone numbers, your spouses phone password. These pics stored on both your phones in single file called Medical. Make sure spouse knows how to access both phones. This suggestion for all, not just RVers.

Marylee Traver (@guest_19943)
5 years ago

To the person who had the excellent idea about the thumb drive….I work at a hospital that does not allow for any “outside” or non hospital IT approved thumb drives….so my want to print out that information and place it in a binder as a backup plan….with so many IT security issues and patient confidentiality, most hospitals are very security sensitive any more.

Another idea…a “Vial of life” container you write the info on and place in your freezer, and place the notice on the fridge door for rescue squads to see .

Terry (@guest_20666)
5 years ago
Reply to  Marylee Traver

Yes, the floppy disc is also restricted due to security. If you have your own equip with you, such as a laptop, devices can be accessed on your own equip w/o security issues.coukd keep a file in your email, but many times opening docs /downloading files still restricted, but access via your device can be an option.
Paper in a ‘Go’ folder is best for access and ease of use, in my experience.

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