Another lifesaving use for duct tape

Posted on October 22, 2009


We spend a fair amount in Torch Lake Township to ensure that when we call 911 with a medical emergency, Kip or Shanna or Bill or Dawn or Brett or one of the other excellent souls on the EMS staff will pull up smartly in our driveway in a shiny ambulance, administer tender care, and cart us off to the hospital, sirens wailing.  This is a comforting feeling in a township where the demographic tilts toward the gray-haired and heart-attack prone. 

The EMS came up several times at the Township Board meeting on Tuesday.  For openers, EMT Bill Evertt described the File of Life program and asked the Board to appropriate funds for the materials.

Diana Hein played hand model, holding up the sample File of Life pouch so I could take a picture of it for you.

Diana Hein played hand model, holding up the sample File of Life pouch so I could take a picture of it for you.

The idea is to have a medical emergency file posted in an easily-recognized pouch in each household in the Township. The handy-dandy magnet strip allows you to slap the pouch on the refrigerator, which is where most of us put other important things like appointments at the mechanic’s and pictures of grandkids. (Unless you are Trustee Larry Tomlinson, who has a fancy-schmancy refrigerator that doesn’t hold magnets. When he asked how he was supposed to put up a file in his house the audience response was immediate and unanimous: Duct tape!)

Inside the pouch is a form that you can copy as many times as you need to in order to make one for each family member. Then you write down all the things it would be good for someone to know if you are the subject of the medical emergency in question.  Medical history, prescriptions you’re taking, allergies, doctor’s name, that sort of thing.  It gives the EMTs a head start on helping you, and they can pass the information on to the hospital while they’re enroute.   

Then Supervisor George Parker read appropriate portions of a thank-you note from a resident who had two recent opportunities to observe the EMS in action. Thank you for coming quickly.  Thank you for taking good care of her, for comforting her, for easing her pain and fear on the way to the hospital.  You did a good job.  You made a difference.

Mercifully, there are fewer than 100 emergency transports in the Township each year.  Torch Lake Township EMS performs other services, too.

  • They answer calls from distant family and nearby caregivers. I just spoke to my father on the phone. He sounded confused.  Can you check on him please?—My husband fell and I can’t lift him. Can you help? Yes.
  • Need to borrow a walker or a wheelchair or a pair of crutches? The EMS has a loan closet.
  • Need to have your blood pressure or blood sugar level tested? Stop in at the Township Hall.
  • The ambulance stands by at the scene of a fire, or a traffic accident, or an event like the iceboat races.

Now, full disclosure: The Township pays me to do the billing for EMS emergency transports. I thus have a financial interest in your continued support of the service through your tax dollars.  I also have a significant position in duct tape futures, in that there are at least three rolls of the stuff around here, all of it employed to advantage.