MedicAlert® South Africa is the market leader and a mission-driven non-profit that systematically identified the necessary elements needed to comprise effective emergency medical services that include information and identification services.
Niel Probert, Bloemfontein
Johannesburg detective Niel Probert, 25, was driving to Bloemfontein for a four-day break. He blacked out behind the wheel of his car 20km before his destination. His car rolled several times, throwing him metres away from his car. A passer-by picked him up, as there were no rescue vehicles in the area, and rushed him to Universitas Hospital.
Doctors found blood in Probert's urine, an indication that he was bleeding internally. Fearing that he had burst a kidney, they immediately prepared to do an intravenous polygram (IVP). This entails injecting an iodine solution into the circulation, which shows up on the screen and allows doctors to check for a haemorrhage. "Wait!" someone shouted. "He's wearing a MedicAlert® bracelet on his wrist!" The bracelet revealed that Probert is allergic to iodine. Instead of conducting the IVP, doctors put him under close observation, constantly monitoring the blood in his urine. Fortunately it started to decrease, signalling that it was unlikely he had a burst kidney.
Probert looks back on the episode with gratitude. "All my life I'd been warned that iodine could kill me," he says. "Without the Lord and my bracelet to sound off the alarm, I might not have been alive today."
Mrs A Reynders, Eloffsdal
"I am one of those people who appreciate the MedicAlert® establishment. My son is an asthmatic, and had an accident on his motorbike. He was unconscious when the medical personnel arrived; he had had an asthma attack but only on reading the condition on his MedicAlert® emblem were the paramedics able to act and treat him there and then. I am positive that due to the shock and injuries sustained he would have been worse off today had he not received the correct treatment immediately."
Graham Hough, KwaZulu-Natal
One Saturday morning Graham Hough was hit by an out-of-control taxi that had climbed the pavement of a street in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal. Suffering severe head injuries, he was stabilised at the scene by a doctor.
He was then rushed to Estcourt Hospital. He could not speak for himself, but his MedicAlert® bracelet immediately alerted the doctor to the fact that he is allergic to the anti-tetanus toxoid traditionally given to patients injured in motor-vehicle accidents. A single drop would have caused a severe reaction that would probably have been fatal.
Today, Hough has permanent short-term memory loss and cannot take pressure of any description as a direct result of the brain injury he suffered. "But it would have been much worse if I had not been wearing the bracelet," he says.
Letter received from an unknown author
"On 30 November 1999, I was called to the customers' toilets, as a customer had collapsed. On arriving there my first aiders were assessing the situation and she was transported to our sick room. Her son, who is intellectually disabled, was with her. He was very upset and was not able to give us any information about his mother. She was wearing her MedicAlert® bracelet and this assisted us in assessing that she had had a heart attack.
"I was trying to get some information from her son regarding her next of kin but he was unable to assist. I then telephoned the MedicAlert® office and was told that the computer was down and that they would phone me back. Within a few minutes I received a call from your office and I was given two contact names and telephone numbers. I was then able to contact the family. Unfortunately, the customer passed away while still in our store.
"I want to express my gratitude and to congratulate you on your efficient service. Without your assistance I would have had a major problem trying to contact the family. It is so vital that the public be made aware of the importance of MedicAlert® and how it speaks for you when you are unable to do so.
"Once again, thank you."
Anonymous, Cape Town
"I thought I would share with you the value of wearing a MedicAlert® emblem, as it may encourage others to wear one.
"My husband was an insulin-dependent diabetic. Although his parents had purchased an emblem for him when he was young, he was reluctant to wear it. Some people are fiercely independent, and do not want people to make a fuss of them because of their medical condition! Although I managed to persuade him to wear it most of the time, there were many days that he forgot to put it on.
"He was travelling alone in the car one day when he had a diabetic reaction. The car came to a standstill (fortuitously) outside our local hospital, and he was soon found and admitted. Because he was not wearing his emblem at the time, it was many hours before I was contacted to say that he was in hospital on a drip. It was a full 24 hours before he was 'back to normal'.
"Another time, he was out on the road with work colleagues when he started feeling funny. As his workmates had no idea what to do, they stopped at a police station. The police officer who attended to him immediately saw his MedicAlert® emblem, gave him a sugary drink, and a little while later they were on their way again. Hats off to the police officer who had remembered his first-aid training.
"Needless to say, he never forgot to wear it again, as he realised the importance of this 'simple device'."