Health Insurance Matters: Vial of Life

Most people who read my (almost) weekly column know that I am in the health insurance business and provide my consultation services at no charge assisting people in selecting health insurance plans. Not that I work for free, as I am compensated by the insurance companies. I represent most plans, and therefore, I am not obligated to any.

As a Medicare specialist, I talk to many seniors and folks with disabilities with horror stories about their medical conditions. I worry about them.

Suppose you or a family member needs medical assistance. You call 911. The EMTs and the ambulance arrive, and you are whisked away to the hospital. Perhaps you are unconscious or incoherent. Who are you? What is your health history? What is normal for you?

If you are taking medication, what medication(s) and how much? People find themselves in emergencies that make it difficult to think straight. At these times, all emergency personnel who are trying to help you need to know many things about you – especially if you have a complex medical history.

Who you are… what illnesses you have… who is your emergency contact person… what is your normal blood pressure… are you wearing hearing or seeing devices… do you have a pace maker, do you speak English… and, if not, what language do you speak?

Introducing Vial of L.I.F.E. (Lifesaving Information For Emergencies)

The Vial of Life is a medical information storage kit for use in the home which enables emergency responders, such as firefighters, paramedics and police to quickly locate helpful medical history information. The form provides space to record all of this information including where they may locate valuable papers such as your living will or DNR (do not resuscitate order).

As a public service, I have put all this into one easy to use kit. The kit consists of instructions, a Vial of Life two-sided form for you to record your information and a container to store it in. On completion of the form, the form is placed into the container, and the container goes into your refrigerator for safe keeping. A magnetic sign goes on the refrigerator door telling the emergency personnel that the Vial of Life is within. Also, in the kit are decals for your front and back door to the home notifying the emergency responders that you have Vial of Life documents in your refrigerator.

Kits are free to the public, yet quantities are limited. They are distributed on a first come, first served basis and may be picked up at my office.

My office’s address is 11006 Kernville Road, Suite 1 in Kernville. We are next door to the Kernville Fire station. We are opened Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 27 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail or visit him on the web at