Hyde County EMS implements Vial of Life program to improve emergency medical response

Published 7:21 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

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A life-saving medical initiative has recently been implemented in Hyde County. The “Vial of Life” nationwide program is making it easier for first responders to identify a patient’s health history and gather information more quickly and effectively. Hyde County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) launched this program in the community mid-September, with the intention of improving emergency medical response and providing critical medical information to first responders in times of need.

Mike Caton, an EMT with Hyde County EMS and local minister, served as the catalyst in bringing the Vial of Life program to his community. “I thought it sounded like a great idea,” Caton told The Coastland Times.

The purpose of the program is that first responders have timely access to medical information during a medical emergency. The way it works is that participants receive two stickers, a plastic bag, and a form to record their medical information on. The form includes medical history, daily medications, demographics and doctor/emergency contact information. One sticker goes on the door to the home, the other sticker goes on the zip-top bag, where the form is stored. The bag is then attached to the resident’s refrigerator. By having the first sticker on the door, it alerts the fire and EMS personnel to look for the bag, which they can then easily locate.

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“If EMS or fire comes in, we’ve got all that information right there; we don’t have to ask questions,” Caton explained. “This gets everything together at one time for us.”

The EMT expressed his gratitude to friend and manager of the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program at East Carolina University (ECU) Health Medical Center Sue Anne Pilgreen for her critical role in funding assistance. Caton said Pilgreen went ahead and ordered all the supplies needed to get the ball rolling. He then distributed the supplies to services within the county.

Vial of Life kits are now available at the local fire departments, the Hyde County senior center, local churches and the health department, or from EMS personnel.

There are several key benefits to this program, outlined by Hyde County EMS, which include: rapid access to critical information, improved patient safety, peace of mind for families, easy implementation, and community collaboration. The overall safety and well-being of residents within the county are top priorities for the county’s emergency services department. They have encouraged Hyde County residents, especially those with chronic medical conditions, seniors and families with young children, to participate in the Vial of Life program. Caton noted, “Even with healthy adults, we still need to know their medical information. This program is crucial for everyone.”