North Adams Ambulance Service is offering File of Life cards to record important health information and will help fill them out.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Ambulance Service is reaching out to the area's youngest and not-so-young residents to help keep them safe.
The service was awarded two grants this year, one for child car-seat safety and another to provide a way for those with critical health-care needs to inform first responders.
The service received $1,000 matching grant from the James and Robert Hardman Fund, through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, to purchase "File of Life" information cards.
This grant, and the Board of Directors commitment to purchase an additional 2,000 cards, resulted in nearly 4,000 card available free throughout the service's coverage area of North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida and Stamford and Readsboro, Vt.
"This sustains the program that Triad already had," said General Manager John Meaney Jr. this week.
The senior safety group, North Adams Triad Chairwoman Pearl Mullett, had initiated the program but needed support to keep it going; the grant will also significantly expand it beyond the city.
The program's objective is straightforward: To have critical health information immediately available to responders in emergency situations.
"The File of Life card enables EMS to quickly determine any life threatening conditions that a patient unable to speak or a frightened family member may not provide," said Lt. Amanda Tobin, in a statement. "These cards can truly be the difference between life and death."
The grant was awarded earlier this year and the cards, or information slips, have recently arrived.
Filled out cards should contain emergency medical contacts, insurance policy, Social Security number, health problems, medications, dosages, allergies, recent surgery, religion and a health-care proxy.
The slips come in two forms, one that can be folded up and placed in a wallet or purse and another than can be folded into a red File of Life pocket with a magnetic back so it can placed prominently on a refrigerator.
Amalio Jusino, assistant chief, who wrote both the grants, said too often people fail to fill out the entire card or update their medications, information that can be critical in a life-threatening situation.
"We come in and all they've filled out is their name and address," he said. That's prompted the service, working with Triad and other organizations including the Housing Authority and Visiting Nurse Association, to reach out to help seniors and others fill out the cards.
Ambulance personnel and partner agencies will be available to assist in completing the cards on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 to 2 at the Spitzer Center. Those unable to attend can get a File of Life card by calling the ambulance at 413-664-6680, Ext. 3; Jusino said help can be provided in filling out the cards at home.
The service also received a state Executive Office of Public Safety car safety seat for $4,784 for 2013. The grant supplements the existing program from 2009, which included a trailer for car safety checks.
Amalio Jusino, left, and John Meaney Jr. earlier this year year showing some of the car seats purchased through a state grant.
The money allowed the service to purchase 72 seats. "This should carry us for the next several years," said Meaney.
The free car-safety seat checks are done on the first and third Fridays of each month from 8 to noon through May 2014.
The checks are to ensure car seats are compliance; those that are not will be replaced through the grant. Only one car seat per child.
The ambulance service is also in the midst of the annual membership drive. However, an error led to the bank closing the its post office box, resulting in memberships being returned a non-deliverable.
Meaney said the service is in the process of rectifying the issue but, in the meantime, memberships can be sent to PO Box 1045, North Adams, MA 01247.
The drive is an important part of the ambulance service's fundraising. It is planning to replace one of its ambulances next year at a cost of about $130,000.