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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Vial of Life

MAY 9, 2019 UPDATE: Last night, at our Executive Board Meeting, our ALA291 Treasurer, Karen Karanickolas, who has been instrumental in helping me push this program forward by facilitating procurement of the Vial of Life stickers, handed me a box of stickers she received this week. We were both quite giddy with excitement because this means we can begin making the Vial of Life packets at the post for anyone that would like one. I will be making an announcement at our next General Meeting on May 15th about scheduling a packet making night at the post. We just need to get our Community First Responders on board.

Last month, as many of you know, I went up to Washington State for 2 weeks to hang out with my dear friend Hap ("my mother from another brother"). She lives with my "brother from another mother" Wes (or vice-versa).  It gave Wes a little time to thaw out from a long winter, visit with his son, and have some time with friends.  While I was there, I noticed a red sticker with a white cross on Hap's front door, and also the same sticker on her fridge. I asked her about it and she explained the whole Vial of Life program her community (Anacortes, Washington) has adopted, with the blessing of their city's first response units.  Since it's adoption and implementation in their city, countless lives have been saved.

Upon my return home, I couldn't stop thinking about the Vial of Life program. I STILL can't stop thinking about it. It's weighing so heavily on my heart that I can't sleep. I'm the Community Services Chair of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 291, and I thought that this could be a wonderful Community Services Outreach Project for our Auxiliary. So I did some research.  According to World Population Review, in 2017-2018 the population of Costa Mesa is 113,825. Of that, 90,012 are adults, 11,821 of whom are seniors (over age 65).  The American Community Survey informs us that there are 42,476 households in Costa Mesa.  I can only imagine, with those numbers, how many lives could be saved in a resident emergency situation if our own wonderful first response units had the assistance of this kind of information at their disposal when they arrive on scene. They see a sticker in the window of the home, and know they have medical information about the homeowner in the fridge/freezer that could be the difference between life and death.

That said, I took my information and presented it to my Auxiliary at our General Meeting last week, and received overwhelming support and a green light to go ahead with this as a Community Service project. My heart absolutely SWELLED with pride! Our unit is under the jurisdiction of the Newport Harbor American Legion Post 291, and so because I live in Costa Mesa, but our post is in neighboring Newport Beach,  I will be presenting this very same program  to the mayors of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in the hope they might consider adopting it in their communities as a whole.

The best part about the Vial of Life program is that it is ABSOLUTELY FREE.  Anyone can go to VialofLife.com and download the medical form, the stickers, and get all the information necessary to make their own Vial of Life.  The problem is, the most vulnerable demographic of folks who would benefit sometimes do not have computers, have access to computers, or even have a desire to mess with any technology.  That's why our Auxiliary will be making up Vial of Life kits FREE OF CHARGE and distributing them to anyone who would like to have one.

The catch is that the program can only be successful if our first responders are aware of its existence. If they are called to a home with a sticker on the door notifying them that the person is a Vial of Life participant, but they aren't aware of the program and don't know there is a precious cache of information about their patient in the fridge/freezer, then the program is of no service to that person.

I really believe in my soul that this program could save countless lives. In Hap's town, residents can actually pick up a pre-assembled Vial of Life kit at their library, hospital, police station and fire department. I would LOVE to see this happen in our community as well, and it's become a personal mission to make that come to fruition.

If you're reading this, I'm going to assume you're a friend or family member, because that's really the only ones who read my blog. That also means that you're probably someone that I love, adore, or care about.  So please, as a favor to me, go to Vialoflife.com and make yourself a FREE Vial of Life life-saving packet. That would mean the world to me.


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