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Retired firefighter still engaged in public protection

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To provide another level of protection, former firefighter Dave Richie (above) hopes to see his emergency medical information packet on every senior’s refrigerator in the area. The small card with the large red cross that he created on his computer can be customized with medical data that could be life saving in emergency circumstances. Richie relocated to Sun City Center in 2004 after 39 years with the Detroit city fire service and another eight years exploring the eastern seaboard in a 32-foot RV.
Melody Jameson photo


By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER – In medical emergencies, accurate information available in a hurry indisputably can be life saving.

And Dave Richie, once in emergency services, now a resident here, believes no one should be without their mini medical history – at home or traveling, in the car, in the golf cart, aboard public transportation.

Medications regularly consumed, patient allergies, instructions about whom to notify, even treating physicians by name, all can weigh in as emergency personnel in the house, in the ambulance or in the hospital endeavor to administer whatever is best suited to the situation with little time to review their decisions.

They may be hospital emergency room doctors and nurses concentrating on the most appropriate treatment, or EMTs with public, private and volunteer transport systems focused on getting the ill and injured to the best care fast, or fire fighters and law enforcement officers determined to remove the endangered to less threatening locations – they all have a keen interest in the hard medical facts, quickly.

But how, exactly? Richie thinks he has a new and improved answer.

For 39 years a fire fighter in Detroit’s inner city, he knows the medical emergency landscape well – and the vital importance of patient information. Today, pursuing his second career as a Realtor in the South County area, those days of screaming sirens and laying hose behind him, Richie says creating and maintaining that record is no less important.

So, he’s developed a simple but efficient means of doing so, and wants everyone — especially every senior — to have it, no charge, for the asking.

Richie’s concept is a folded, four-sided card, approximately a third the size of a standard greeting card, fitted into a small, clear, plastic baggie equipped with a short strip of magnetic tape. The covers, emblazoned with red crosses, provide space for individual names. Inside are spaces for listing medications by names, along with dosage amounts and times taken per day. Allergies and doctors, as well as emergency contacts, also can be detailed inside. No other personal information is divulged. The plastic bag, with its magnetic tape, will attach to most metal surfaces such as the home refrigerator, Richie asserts.

Of course, it also can be added to the vehicle registration and in-case-of –accident records in personal cars, perhaps attached somewhere in golf carts, even placed in purses, fitted into wallets and tucked into luggage.

While similar in intent to the Vial of Life, a long standing medical information concept used in Sun City Center involving data enclosed in a cylinder, Richie’s approach offers greater, easier access, he suggests. “The original Vial of Life container was kept in rather than on the refrigerator, making it more difficult to find,” he noted, adding “in an emergency, there usually isn’t the time to look around the frozen sausage.”

Richie’s concept differs in another respect. His emergency medical info folder also contains his business card data across the bottom portion. However, he acknowledges that the commercial information readily can be folded up and into the card, out of sight.

And, would the mini medical history work in practice? Probably, yes, indicates Capt. Sonny Glass, a Hillsborough County Fire rescue officer in charge at Station 28 in Sun City Center. Glass, emphasizing he does not endorse any particular concept, agrees that factual medical information on a refrigerator door that could be grabbed hastily by emergency personnel would be useful.

Glass, who has spent 26 years in fire fighting and rescue services, notes he’s seen a number of such items on the market over the years, saying “anything that assists in a timely fashion in taking care of the patient” is valuable – another tool in the emergency personnel tool kit. The red cross on Richie’s card attracts the eye, he says, adding “if there’s paper with Joe’s medications written on it, we’d grab it.”

Richie, the former fire fighter, says he’d like to know that residents’ emergency medical information is secured in plastic on every refrigerator in the community “so everyone has that level of protection in an emergency.”

He can be reached via email at David.Richie@gmail.com or by telephone at 941-720-2194.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson
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