<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Medical Emergencies on the Road
NOTE: While this is designated as an ARCHIVE FILE, it is retained despite the date of first publication because it offers information of continuing current interest and/or for its historical perspective. Please be guided accordingly.



Topic: Preparing for Medical Emergencies on the Road

Presenter: John Adams, RV Alliance America

[Ed Note 10/2011: Good common sense advice here. As forecast, CPR techniques continue to change, and you need to stay current. Also the "how to use" defibrillator technique is now essential.]

First aid courses: These teach the basics, and will make you more comfortable when an emergency arises. Also discuss the Good Samaritan laws of varous states -- the laws that protect persons who try to aid someone dealing with a medical emergency. Often teach the Heimlich Manuever -- the procedure for dealing with a chocking.

What to do if driver is having an event -- heart attack, choking, etc. Get the driver's hands off the wheels, literally throw him or her on the floor, and get the RV under control -- slowed down and stopped at the side of the road.

Everyone should take a CPR course, and stay current on it as well. The procedures do change and improve. Take them at Red Cross, Fire Department, and often at RV rallies. If you ever have to give CPR, know it is physically demanding. You may save that person's life, but you may be exhausted for days.

First aid books: Recommends that you get one for your RV. An it's important that you read it first, so you won't be fumbling for where to find things in the book when an emergency arises. Re-read it periodically to stay refreshed.

Know your medical conditions: Do you have allergies? Do you take prescriptions? Most doctor will give you a letter outlining your physical condition. If you have a current EKG take it with you. It provides a baseline for reference in the event you have need for it on the road. Know too what your insurance coverages are. Also, know where you are! Literally, some folks don't really recognize where they are at any point in time. If you need to call for help, you'll need to give a precise location to get help on a timely basis. Know what road you're on, track mile markers, what county you're currently in, etc. Weather alerts often done by counties.

Know your license plate number and have a description of your rig. To most people all RVs look alike...and they're all called "Winnebago". GPS coordinates if you have them.

Equipment: Everyone should have a first aid kit -- checked recent to make sure everything in it is current. Many of the contents will have dated items that need to be replaced. Ask you doctor what YOU specifically need. Do you have asthma, allergic to bee stings, etc. In today's kit you need to include rubber gloves. WalMart sells them. Duct tape can be used to improvise for band aids. Be prepared to improvise.

Medical information sheets: Fill them out and put them in the refrigerator or freezer. Most EMT's are trained to look there in the event of a medical emergency. [is this form downloadable from the Internet?] While most wives tend to know them medical condition of their husbands, the reverse is no usually true.

Health Proxy: This is like a medical power of attorney. It authorizes someone to make decisions on medical treatment. The proxy holder needs to know your general health condition and what your desires would be. Note: The proxy shouldn't be stored in your safe deposit box -- you need to have it with you. The proxy holder might be a non-family member, to avoid disputes among large families.

DNR orders (do not resusitate) -- means if you have non-recoverable illness, you may choose not to be kept artificially alive.

Cell phones and CBs help. If you have a charged cell phone, you can ALWAYS call 911, even if you don't have a cell plan. It WILL go through.

Medical Evacuation Plans: Transportation to the hospital when you're sick or have been in an accident. Make sure it covers whatever it takes -- ambulance, airplane or whatever. There are all sorts of plans out there, and you need to shop for one that best meets your needs. Medical repatriation -- after you're out of the hospital, they'll send you to your home -- (or if full timing) where? The plan needs to send you, as a full timer, to a place of your choosing. Visit by family member or friend? If you have a home, and you're more than 100 miles from home, some plans will pay for a friend or relative to visit you. Whenyou're released from hospital, you want your spouse to have his/her way paid home as well. E.g., FMCA plan will not pay for this. Does the return home include dependent children and grandchildren? How about pets? Does it include vehicle return home as well? Some plans won't move the RV unless you're moved more than 100 miles. Find a plan that you can use a professional driver or someone of your choice. Make sure you have a choice, and that person's way is entirely paid. Look for meals and accommodations covering both driver and significant other. Return of remains -- no one likes to talk about it, but it's important to take care of cremation or embalming, and ship remains to the "home" of your choice. Plans range from thousands down to about $100. RVAA plan is $125/yr. Look for a plan that will have an independent physician monitor your condition, and be your advocate to ensure you will get the right type of treatment. Look for no pre-existing conditions, no application fees, helicopters if necessary, and good world wide (not just U.S.). Make sure your plan doesn't require you to call insurance carrier first. You're going to call 911 first, then your family. Get a copy of the policy up front before you pay your money. It's what's in the policy that controls -- not what a sales person tells you.

Support Teams: Can be friend or relative. Tell them generally where you are and intend to be. Give them description of the rig and license plate. If you have an itinerary, give them a copy. Make sure they have all your insurance coverages, including your evacuation plan. They should be listed as your contact on your "medical information sheet." They can be contacted in the event both of you are incapacitated.