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FAQ35: Should I contact my local "911" dispatcher after surgery?
by "Dutch" Helms

After reading several suggestions about contacting the local "911" dispatcher regarding my "condition" as a laryngectomee, I finally got off my butt and decided to do so. I felt this especially important, given that I, like many of you, live alone. I thought sharing the results of this experience might be of some assistance to many of you.

First, since I was not really SURE where my local "911" dispatcher was, I called "911" to get the correct office address. I then drove over and popped in for a visit. They could not have been nicer! I explained my "problem" (being a laryngectomee and a "neck-breather") and asked THEM what information THEY would like to have on hand should I ever call them and be unable to speak. They happily provided me with a short list with which I returned home to complete. The following day I returned to their office with the information which they promptly added to their computer system AND to a back-up Rolodex system. They asked me to go back home, wait an hour or so, and then call them to "test" them ... so that I would know that the "system" was up and running as it should be. I did this and, predictably, it worked just fine.

So, now, if I call "911" and am unable to speak, the dispatcher now has immediate access to the following information on me:

(1) Name, Address, Telephone Number, DOB, and that I live alone.
(2) That I am a laryngectomee (no vocal cords), speak via a voice
prosthesis, am a total neck breather, have had a single coronary
bypass operation, and have O Negative blood type.
(3) Name, Address, & Phone of two emergency contact persons.
(out-of-state primary family contact and one local good friend)
(4) Name, Address, & Phone of my Primary Physician & ENT.
(5) Listing of the medications that I take daily.
(6) Preferred local hospital for Emergency Care
(7) Name & Phone of my Medical Insurance Carrier
(8) My Medic-Alert ID Number they can use to contact Medic-Alert.
(I wear a Medic-Alert ID bracelet)

Needless to say, the experience was painless, short, and, I must admit, LONG OVERDUE. I certainly feel a lot better now about calling "911" if necessary. That I would recommend that ALL of us do this or something similar is a clear understatement. While I am sure each "911" office may have its own unique preference for what information they would like to have, taking the time to provide it would seem well worth the effort and would be a significant contribution to your own "peace of mind." Just a thought.



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