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How prepared are you should a medical emergency occur when you’re traveling?

As a former corporate meeting planner and in preparation for a meeting, I was responsible for putting together among other things the communication packet that was provided to all meeting participants, be they the meeting hosts, internal or external guests. One piece of the packet included something that none of us wanted to really think about, much less experience first-hand, but had to be addressed – what to do should a medical emergency occur. A simple slip or fall, an upset tummy, a headache is one thing, but what if the situation was of a far more serious nature, one requiring a trip to the nearest medical clinic or hospital?

Further, as a planner, I always wanted/needed to know things like:

  • If the group was staying at a hotel, what was the hotel’s protocol for handling medical emergencies?

  • Who should you contact in the hotel to report a medical emergency?

  • Who on their staff was first aid and CPR trained?

  • Did the hotel have portable defibrillators; if so, who was trained to use them?

  • Did they have medical professionals on-site or on call? If so, what was the protocol for contacting them?

  • What is the name, address and phone number of not only the closest but best medical clinic and/or hospital?

(You can find more questions to ask in my book, but these come top of mind.)

Do you need answers to these same questions when you’re traveling for personal reasons – say perhaps, your vacation? I say YES! Why? Because you never know when you might need the information, and the last thing you want to do is have something unexpected happen and not know what to do.

Jim and I had the unexpected happen to us while in Florida. I’m not going into the medical details here but suffice it to say knowing what to do, who to call allowed for the calmness from me that was so important to seeing the situation through.

We were staying in a private residence, one where there was security on staff 24/7. However, I didn’t have a phone number for the desk. Looking back, I wish I had – but calling 911 did the trick and was probably the best, quickest route.

What I wasn’t quite as prepared for was that I didn’t know where Jim’s wallet was that contained his medical cards nor could I remember the name of his doctor. (With a little bit of time to think, however, the name did come to me and I was able to find the wallet without too many extra steps.) I was also able to confirm any prescription drugs he was taking – which was none.

I have long kept cards in my wallet with who to contact in case of an emergency, doctor’s names and numbers – and my purse is always in the closet, a drawer or a safe if there is one in the room. I’m going to have to figure out a way to do the same with Jim’s information but there’s not much room in those little bi- or tri-fold wallets men use.

I’m telling you all this because it’s so important that you ask these questions of the hotel or resort or private residence that either your group or you personally are staying at – and that you know where you or your spouse or partner or travel companion keeps their personal information – because you may need it when you least expect it and time may be of the essence. And, the last thing you want to do is panic. Keeping calm is imperative – for you, the injured party, and the people who are being called to care for you/others.

If you have other information you keep in possession when you travel and how you store it (paper copies, cell phone NOTES, etc.) and want to share, please do. We’ll all be the better, smarter for it.

Take care. Be well. Plan well.

UPDATE: A couple of helpful tips I received since first publishing this blog that I want to share with you.

  1. Capture and store your medical information on a NOTES-type app on your mobile phone.

  2. Ask your doctor(s)/dentists for medical referrals for the cities where you'll be staying.



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