Last week I wrote about the need to carry emergency and perhaps not-so-emergency information with you at all times. You can read that article at http://goo.gl/49Wc.
I started doing this many years ago with a laminated card in my wallet. I have O-negative blood, not a rare blood type but also not so common. In case of a medical emergency, such as an accident, I wanted my medical rescuers to know my blood type. I added my home address and the names and telephone numbers of my next of kin.
As the years went by, I added more information and replaced the card with a new laminated card every few years. A few years ago I was diagnosed as a diabetic and the amount of information on the card increased. I added in the (many) prescription drugs that I now take and the dosages. Soon, there was too much information to fit on one wallet-sized card.
I added a note to my laminated card that said, "See the file called IN CASE OF MEDICAL EMERGENCY PLEASE READ THIS.TXT in the jump drive in my pocket."
I have carried a jump drive with me ever since for this and for other purposes. In the root directory of the jump drive, I now carry a text file that contains information about my blood type and a lot more besides. I also carry backups of a lot of other files on the same jump drive that have nothing to do with emergency medical information.
Many people wear medical ID bracelets for similar reasons: to notify medical personnel of medical conditions. Of course, you cannot fit much information inside a normal medical ID bracelet. I wrote the article last week and, in the process of researching the topic on the web, I found a bracelet that seemed to fit my needs perfectly: the Macx USB Medical ID Bracelet contains a built-in USB jump drive.
I ordered one as soon as I saw it advertised. It arrived today.
The Macx USB Medical ID Bracelet is obviously a medical bracelet; nobody will ever mistake it for anything else. Every medic, ambulance attendant, nurse, or doctor who sees it during a medical emergency will instantly know that it contains medical information about me and will hopefully examine the information inside the bracelet. Best of all, the bracelet contains a USB jump drive.
The bracelet also arrived with four bright red gummed labels of the right size to fit inside the bracelet. I selected the one that says, "THIS PATIENT HAS DIABETES - SEE THE USB DRIVE BELOW." Other labels were for a "cardiac condition, "allergies," and one that simply read "THIS PATIENT HAS A MEDICAL CONDITION - SEE THE USB DRIVE BELOW."
Any medical personnel who open the cover on this medical bracelet will immediately see the bright label. Opening the next cover will reveal a black-and-white USB "jump drive."
I like the idea of having detailed information on a jump drive. All hospitals and even most ambulances have computers and most, but not all, of them will accept jump drives. Even if the hospital's and ambulance's computers are "locked down" with the USB ports disabled, I am sure that any doctor with an unconscious patient that has a jump drive on his or her wrist will find a useable computer SOMEPLACE to reveal the information contained on that drive. I cannot imagine any doctor or nurse ignoring a jump drive inside a medical ID bracelet when the patient is unable to communicate.
The included jump drive will store up to 128 megabytes of information. That's tiny by comparison to most of the jump drives on the market today. In theory, the included jump drive could be replaced by one with larger capacity. However, the space inside the bracelet is tiny and most jump drives won't fit in that space. Next, I can't imagine needing more than 128 megabytes to store all the required medical information. I suspect you could even squeeze in a few x-ray images in that space!
If plugged into a Windows computer for the first time, and if the autorun feature of the computer is enabled, a window will appear asking permission to run Profile for Windows. If you click OK, the application will start automatically and a small program appears asking you to enter your medical information. Once stored, the information you enter will be displayed on the screen every time the jump drive is plugged into a Windows or Macintosh computer.
The included instructions claim that, when inserted into a Macintosh computer, an icon named PROFILE will appear on your desktop. One problem: I inserted it into my Mac running the latest version of Macintosh OS X software and nothing happened. No icon appeared.
However, I used Finder to navigate to the jump drive and double-clicked on the ProfileMac file stored in the drive. That opened a "Setup Wizard" program that asked for my name, date of birth, preferred language, sex (the emergency responders can't figure THAT out?), address, primary care physician and his or her contact info, any other physician and contact information, medical insurance company, and name and contact information for next of kin. Next, it asked for any medical conditions I have. This was a "fill in the blanks" free form text field, allowing me to write in anything I felt was appropriate.
The setup program went on and asked for more medical information, including any past surgeries, if I had a living will, if I was an organ donor, if I had a health care proxy, and a final screen for entering several lines of text for "other relevant medical information." I entered, "In case if medical emergency, please read the PLEASE READ THIS.TXT file on this jump drive."
The information was then stored in the jump drive. Any time in the future when the drive is inserted into either a Windows or Macintosh computer, and if the autorun feature of the computer is enabled, a window will appear displaying all the information that I entered. If necessary, any of the information can be updated at any time.
Information entered on a Macintosh system will display on a Windows computer and vice-versa.
I then copied my PLEASE READ THIS.TXT file to the jump drive as it contains still more information about other relatives to contact if my primary contact is unavailable and even more information.
All in all, I am happy with the Macx USB Medical ID Bracelet but it is not perfect. I already noted that the SETUP program did not launch automatically on my Macintosh, even though the instructions claimed that it would. Next, I also noted that the USB jump drive is physically small, making jump drive replacement difficult, although not impossible.
I also discovered is that it is possible to plug this jump drive in upside down. You have a 50/50 chance of getting it right the first time. Guess which way I plugged it in the first time?
Plugging it in upside down doesn't do any harm. However, if I can plug it in upside down, so can medical personnel. I would hope they would know enough to try it the other way if the first attempt doesn't work. Even better, the included jump drive should be a "one way device," like most of the other jump drives on the market.
Finally, I have one comment about personal preferences. This is a unisex piece of jewelry, suitable for wearing by both men and women. As such, it is a bit..., shall we say, "diminutive?" That's a better word than "girly." If you are looking for some brawny and masculine piece of jewelry to display while riding your Harley, this isn't it!
Even with these minor drawbacks, I'd still consider the USB Medical ID Bracelet to be a great device for anyone. Of course, it is important to anyone with a medical condition that needs information conveyed to emergency medical personnel. However, anyone who is unconscious should have information somewhere on his or her body that medical personnel will immediately see and check. At a minimum, you want to have the name and phone number of next of kin who can make decisions, if you are unconscious.
I purchased my Macx USB Medical ID Bracelet from Amazon.com at http://goo.gl/QTtv for $34.99. However, I suspect that it or similar bracelets are probably available from many drug stores, department stores, and elsewhere. You might want to shop around.