The scenario is a frightening one, but one that happens to someone in Ahwatukee almost every day.
A medical emergency occurs – a home accident, a recurrent medical problem, any number of things. Quickly, the Phoenix Fire Department paramedics arrive from one of the three village stations to handle the emergency.
The patient is well-cared for and transported to the hospital. But there can be so many questions that arise:
What medications are they on, or are allergic to? How is their house to be secured? Is there a neighbor or relative that should be contacted? Do they have a cell phone and charger, and where are they? Who’s their primary physician and how is she contacted? What is to be done with their pets left at home?
In Ahwatukee, thanks to the vision of two local women and active community volunteers, there is a proactive solution for not only senior citizens residing here, but residents of any age.
Linda Jochim and Karen Young, both members of the Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee, originated the idea of MedStats kits in 2012 while researching a way for seniors to have all their medical history and important contact numbers and other information in one place in case of emergency.
The MedStats packets, free upon request, were designed by the two women with input from the Phoenix Fire Department and the United Phoenix Firefighter’s Association, which donates the printing of the packages.
Ahwatukee Captain paramedic Derrick Johnson of Station 46 was instrumental in providing suggestions for packet inclusions and in educating his fellow firefighters on the program.
“We needed a program for senior citizens to help keep them safe, and for first responders to have information immediately available to them during an emergency,” said Johnson, who has served Ahwatukee the last five years of his 34 years as a Phoenix firefighter and paramedic.
“With a third of Ahwatukee consisting of adults 55 and older, this is a very crucial program,” said Young, assistant general manager at the Ahwatukee Board of Management who cited stats that showed of the 5,073 homes in the village, 1,628 are required to be 55-plus.
The MedStats document pouch is affixed with a heavy-duty magnet that is placed on a refrigerator.
Each packet contains forms on which important health information can be listed including current prescribed and over the counter medications being taken, and allergies. If desired, a living will or advance directive for health care is also provided and can be enclosed.
All very important to first responders, said Johnson.
“We’d go on calls and we’d have no information to help them,” said Johnson, an Ahwatukee resident.
“And sometimes we wouldn’t know who to contact, or what their current medical conditions or allergies to medications. These are all important things for our first responders.”
And there are other issues important to the patient.
“We call them ‘soft things,’” said Johnson. “Things like how to secure the home when they leave; what to do for their pets – water, food; and something as simple as locating their cell phones or grabbing a charger. It would bother anybody when they go to the hospital. People worry about those things.”
He said seniors often have neighbors who regularly look in on them. If the friend or neighbor is listed in the MedStats pouch information, they can be notified.
“They might have neighbors who watch after them, and they go in to check on them and they’re gone. This is another way for people to stay connected,” he said.
Other contacts include family members who may live in another state.
These, too, should be listed so the Fire Department can let them know where their loved one is and what their condition is.
“This is all a part of your customer service,” he said. “Obviously, we go there for the emergency, but there’s a lot that happens and this helps the patient, us, the doctors, and the person’s friends and relatives. These are things the firefighters on the trucks care about, and if its prepared beforehand, it just helps everybody.”
For Jeanne McLain of Ahwatukee, the MedStats program has already been of lifesaving help.
“I’m a type 1 diabetic, and several times I’ve had an insulin reaction. One time I passed out, and the firemen who answered my call were lifesavers, and I mean they literally saved my life,” said McLain, 86.
“I keep the package on the front of my refrigerator and I have a list that includes my daughter’s contact information,” she added.
McLain’s daughter, Deborah Davis, lives just 10 minutes away from her mother; her son lives in Kansas City, where McLain last resided.
“I tell you, being able to get help so very quickly is comforting,” said McLain. “And those wonderful firefighters who answer my calls are just wonderful.”
The MedStats pouches, which has their logo prominently displayed, are distributed through the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, Ahwatukee Recreation Center, Pecos Senior Center and the offices of the Ahwatukee Board of Management.
A UV-protected window sticker is also included so that first responders know to look for the important information inside the house.
Jochim said, to date, approximately 3,800 kits have been distributed throughout Ahwatukee and another 200 will be soon reprinted and made available.
“We don’t limit MedStats to 55 and older though that was the group originally targeted through Senior Advocacy,” said Young. “This program should not know any age. “
Jochim, community outreach director of the Y OPAS program headquartered at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, and one of the founding SAGA members, said she recently had a conversation with a Phoenix Fire captain from another district who told her he’d wished he’d had a Medstats pouch on the last call to which he responded.
The trademarked MedStats name and logo were designed by Ahwatukee resident RuthAn Schmidtt of Schmidtt Graphics.
For more information on the MedStats program, phone 623-565-8853 or email Admin@SAGAseniors.org.