Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disaster Drill

Two words:  flash drive.
           Two more thoughts.  Buy one. Then compile your medical history, current medications and other pertinent medical information into a document and transfer it to the drive.  Zip that puppy into your wallet and leave it there. You can also store the document in Dropbox or another web-based program like Backupify just in case (in emergencies, sometimes we lose our wallets).
           Better yet:  Park all of your medical information on a mobile app (more below) so your phone becomes your personal medical library.
           You've just taken a big step forward in disaster preparedness.
           None of us can “prepare” ourselves for a disaster on the scale of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11 and the subsequent nuclear reactor failure. This would equate to imagining your current life – the streets where you walk the dog, all the neighborhoods,  the closest grocery and dry cleaners, the closest hospital and shopping center – obliterated and splintered into pieces for miles.  All of it washed away and covered in mud. Even journalists, those soldiers of information gathering in dire circumstances, have been shaken while covering this disaster.    
           Some of my first thoughts following news of the earthquake, before I'd even seen images or understood its magnitude, concerned cancer patients. What would you do, I thought, if you were in the middle of chemotherapy? Or recovering from a bone marrow transplant BMT? The week the earthquake hit I'd been visiting with Ann Gregory and her husband, Chris. They are BMT veterans. As she was about to undergo her second bone marrow transplant, Hurricane IKE hit the gulf coast. Her hospitalization at MD Anderson went on without a hitch. But the apartment where Chris was staying had a sewage backup as well as power failure. For a week he lived in their car in the MD Anderson parking garage.
Lovell A. Jones, Ph.D.
            Following Hurricane IKE, when thousands of Houston area residents were without power for close to a month,  MD Anderson operated successfully for significant time on generators before full power was restored.  Lovell A. Jones, Ph.D., MDA's director of the Center for Research on Minority Health, also serves as Principal Investigator of the  Secure Gulf Coast Consortium, seven academic and health institutions that are working together to improve disaster readiness in vulnerable populations from Texas to Florida. 
           He says the best thing any of us can do is to have all of our medical information on a flash drive. "Until the electronic medical record becomes a reality, the best thing any cancer patient can do to guarantee continuity of care is have all their information on a flash drive.  We've also found that we need to tell people to dedicate that drive to strictly to health info.  Nothing else."
           The SECURE project will be working with elementary school children on disaster preparedness in order to increase everyone's knowledge of preparedness, especially their parents.  What consortium investigators at Meharry Medical College have found already is that stress during events such as Hurricanes Karina, Rita and Ike seem to increase infant mortality following such storms.
           There are steps all of us can take to keep us from becoming a statistic before our time.  I've compiled some info below.  I hope you find it helpful.  For those in states bordering the gulf coast, I've also included the RED CROSS link on evacuation routes.  
           And by all means,  if you have helpful links or mobile apps to share please let me know and I'll add them to the list.  


Stay well,
Jody 

*Mobile Apps: 
    1) SOS4Life  Cool app (IPhone & coming to Blackberry) that holds your medical history AND  translates it into seven different languages.  
    2) IChemo Diary Merck. (Free download from Apple) Program to monitor your chemotherapy treatment and side affects.  
    3) In Case of Emergency:  (Free Blackberry download): to store emergency contact info.

*Ways to Prepare for a Natural Disaster -- Helpful, consise info./        http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/emergencies.jsp 



* "Coping with Cancer After a Natural Disaster"  -- Excellent summary from American Cancer Society 


* "Emergency Preparedness & Response" Center for Disease Control 


*Red Cross Shelters


On Twitter #FF @CDCEmergency @CrisisSocialMedia (#smem)

13 comments:

Annemieke said...

Dear Jody,

Once again an amazing blog. You always manage to teach me something and make me think deeply about certain things. Or you introduce me to awesome people. I thank you for both. Actually, I already have a list of medication and short medical history in my BB but now I'll try to upgrade that. Thanks again for enlightening me. Big hug, Annemieke

Ann said...

Really great post. It's so important to have access to your medical records at a moment's notice. A fellow patient has a zip drive upon which he affixed a caudalus sticker in the event that he needed help and couldn't communicate with paramedics. You never know what's going to happen.

Whidbey Woman said...

Thank you for this great post. I knew to have meds in an emergency kit but never thought about putting medical informtion (prescriptions, treatments, etc) on a USB port. Great idea! We live in earthquake/tsunami/volcano country and need to be prepared.
~Whidbey Woman

Jody said...

Thank you all for your comments - I took one step for cycling and purchased a ROAD ID tag that contains pertinent health info. Now I need to do my medical record and get it on a drive:)

Annemiekeh, I'm glad you're already on your way with MedInfo on your phone:)

Ann, I love putting the caudalus idea! That's a great one!

Whidbey Woman, Glad you stopped by. Living in hurricane zone has taught me a great deal about preparation. We all need to do what we can.

jms

facebook said...

Jody,
I'm sitting here shaking my head about Ann Gregory and her husband. As if mentally gearing up for your 2nd bone marrow transplant isn't difficult enough, her husband wound up living in their car for a week! I'm wondering if MDA has anything in place that could have helped him? God bless them both.

XOXOX,
Brenda

MJ said...

I don't know how much space you get, but RoadID also has an interactive option (like the old MedicAlert) that they say lets you store a lot of info on their secure platform, with web/phone access via ID and passcode. http://www.roadid.com/common/compare.aspx

In terms of what to keep on the flash drive and in what format, any guidance? For example, my new doc scanned in all my old records into her system, but I don't know that every office or hospital can read every format. Do you suggest compiling all the info yourself? Also, for emergency access, you wouldn't want it encrypted, but for privacy (if you were the only one to access it) you might encrypt it.

Thanks for the idea.

Nancy said...

Jody, Thanks for the good information here. We always think this kind of thing will not happen to us, but of course no place or no one is immune to such disasters.

Jody said...

MJ - great info on Road ID and questions. I have a ROAD ID, but opted out of their online record system because 1) there was an additional fee involved and 2)putting the basics on a drive seemed to make more sense.

MD Anderson has a form you can use to compile your basic history and information but as I wrote this; the link was dead. I will keep checking back (I did report that to the webmaster) and post it when it's up.

For starters I'm going to put together a word document with basic info and w/that, narrative of cancer treatment including type of chemo, surgeries, lymphadema problems, etc.

Then - List of current medications (which isn't long) but vitamins need to be included, dosage and brand name makes it easier.

I'm also going to scan in my most recent CBC and chemical analysis, this year's mammogram and bone density report.

To me, it's a great way to start.

As for privacy, my thought is that this is an emergency-use only document and is not a concern (for me) but you bring up a valid point.

I hope this helps.

jms

Jody said...

Nancy -

Thanks for stopping by. You're right. Bad things can happen. I've especially seen this living in the "hurricane zone."

When IKE hit I had a horrible bronchial infection. After three days the local grocery was working on an emergency generator. People were waiting for hours in line and only 10 - 15 people were allowed in to shop at a time. It was unnerving. I needed to have my medicine refilled and thankfully they let me in without a fuss. That helped as you can't imagine how unbearably hot and still it is following these storms.

jms

Jody said...

Nancy -

Thanks for stopping by. You're right. Bad things can happen. I've especially seen this living in the "hurricane zone."

When IKE hit I had a horrible bronchial infection. After three days the local grocery was working on an emergency generator. People were waiting for hours in line and only 10 - 15 people were allowed in to shop at a time. It was unnerving. I needed to have my medicine refilled and thankfully they let me in without a fuss. That helped as you can't imagine how unbearably hot and still it is following these storms.

jms

Jody said...

Nancy -

Thanks for stopping by. You're right. Bad things can happen. I've especially seen this living in the "hurricane zone."

When IKE hit I had a horrible bronchial infection. After three days the local grocery was working on an emergency generator. People were waiting for hours in line and only 10 - 15 people were allowed in to shop at a time. It was unnerving. I needed to have my medicine refilled and thankfully they let me in without a fuss. That helped as you can't imagine how unbearably hot and still it is following these storms.

jms

Jody said...

Nancy -

Thanks for stopping by. You're right. Bad things can happen. I've especially seen this living in the "hurricane zone."

When IKE hit I had a horrible bronchial infection. After three days the local grocery was working on an emergency generator. People were waiting for hours in line and only 10 - 15 people were allowed in to shop at a time. It was unnerving. I needed to have my medicine refilled and thankfully they let me in without a fuss. That helped as you can't imagine how unbearably hot and still it is following these storms.

jms

Keep the Positive Energy Flowing said...

Great post! What a great idea to secure our records. I think it's a good idea regardless of a disaster. You could just hand a new doc your flash drive instead of them asking you a million questions!

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