CHRISTIAN NEWS ARCHIVES
Church Seniors Design Program
to Assist Emergency Personnel
A group of older adults concerned about emergency care for people confined to their homes, came together in May 1996 to establish the "Vial of Life" program.
Designed primarily to serve people who live alone, have restricted mobility or chronic health problems, the program provides medical information to ambulance or rescue personnel who may be called to the home, said Harry "Pat" Wolfe.
"Anything that would reduce the time interval in an emergency could be of substantial benefit," he said.
President of the denominationwide Committee on Older Adults, Wolfe said the program fits very well in Older Adult Ministries. He cited the example of Memorial United Methodist Church, Farmington, Mo., which has initiated the program. Approximately 60 homes participate and it has approval from the regional ambulance service.
The plan uses an amber-colored plastic prescription vial containing an 8 1/2 x 11 inch form detailing the person's personal and medical profile placed in the upper right hand section inside the refrigerator.
Participants in the program are given an identification decal to place on the vial and one for the main entrance to the home to "lead emergency personnel directly to the information in a minimal amount of time when time well could be of the essence," Wolfe said.
Steps in creating the "Vial of Life" program were planning and designing, recruiting volunteers to visit people who would benefit most from the service, completing the form with them, affixing the decals in their proper places and obtaining a legal waiver to protect First United Methodist Church from any liabilities. The program was launched last September. A strength of the program is that "it combines both a missionary and a service project," Wolfe said.
Although the program is considered successful, program organizers are seeking ways to resolve a recurring problem: maintaining and updating the information in each vial. he said program managers are looking to the volunteers to maintain contact with people they originally visited to check the information and establish contact between the participant and First United Methodist Church.
During its first year, according to Wolfe, the "Vial of Life" effort has been made available to local older adult housing units and has been shared with other churches and emergency units in nearby communities. Approximately 150 homes currently participate.
Wolfe and program organizers plan to present the program to the Committee on Older Adults for its consideration as a ministry it could endorse. For more information contact: First United Methodist Church, 301 North Jefferson St., Kittanning, Pa., 16201; or call (412) 548-4312.
Posted August 7, 1997
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