Originally Published: October 3, 2001 7 p.m.
PRESCOTT – The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and staff members of Yavapai Regional Medical Center are breathing new life into a program designed to save lives.
In a renewed effort to promote and disseminate the "File of Life," the YCSO and YRMC are working with other agencies to kick-start the 7-year-old program.
The File of Life is a pocket-sized medical history in a pouch with a magnetic strip. The patient is to hang the pouch on the refrigerator.
The purpose of the file is to provide quick access to a person's medical history to first responders such as paramedics or firefighters during an emergency situation.
YCSO Community Action Coordinator Georgia Cadena said the program began in 1995.
"It's to help first responders and law enforcement get the (medical) information faster because it could mean life or death," Cadena said.
First responders will know the file is inside the home when they arrive because of a reflective File of Life decal that the patient sticks in the window or on the front door.
"It tells them what kind of problems this person has been dealing with," said Paul Peterson of the YCSO Volunteers in Protection Program.
Peterson said he has been working to enhance the File of Life program since 1995. He said because of a combined effort between YCSO and YRMC, the program now has enough resources to be more effective.
He said the File of Life helps save lives by cutting down the amount of time first responders take to determine a course of treatment. The file also identifies drug allergies and any other medications the person is taking.
YRMC Director of Volunteer Services Lynnel Walters said the File of Life program is a variation of an older program called "Vial of Life." The Vial of Life is a prescription bottle – kept in the refrigerator – that contains important medical information on.
"The problem was we had paramedics scrambling around behind the ketchup bottle looking for the vial," Walters said. "Now, they can just scoop it (the file) off the fridge and off they go."
Walters said quick access to the information the file provides is the key to starting medical treatment during an emergency.
"It will save them (first responders) so much time," she said. "We really feel this is going to be an enormous help to the community."
She said the program is especially helpful for seniors who may be taking several different kinds of medication.
"We do have a large population of older folks that may need to have the interactions of their medical treatment s coordinated," she said.
Peterson said the program is not only for seniors.
"It's for anyone with special needs," he said.
YRMC can provide people with the file and Peterson said YCSO and YRMC are working with the fire department to distribute it.
"We're working with the fire department because they are usually the first on the scene," Peterson said.
Central Yavapai Fire District Chief Dave Curtis said the fire department will begin handing out the files when they respond to medical calls
"It's a good program to get out into the community and hopefully it will save lives," Curtis said.