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If you're going to school and you don't have family there, some advice


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My kid just had a vehicle accident and this kind of brought things home with a bang. He's fine (just some minor scrapes and a bit of muscle strain), but his scooter is in many, many pieces. We live two hours away from him when there's no traffic. I left for grad school, so he did stay in his home community for college, where we have a large network of friends and acquaintances (no family). Luckily, my spouse was in town, and actually driving nearby when it occurred, so he was able to be on the scene in a few minutes.


So, my advice? If you're new to an area, make an emergency plan. An, I just got hit by a bus, OMFG plan. Find someone, maybe make an emergency contact group out of your fellow no-family-in-town cohort, to be your go-to person/people until either your family can get there or you can take care of yourself. Someone that can take your bookbag from the scene of an accident and hang on to it until you can reclaim it, or you family can pick it up. Someone who your parents can call if they need help finding your hospital room, or getting into contact with someone at the university so they can deal with an extended absence.


Sit down and make a list of what needs to happen if you get hit by a bus. Do some rough figuring, how long until a family member can show up and start taking responsibility for the things you can't do until you're out of traction? What needs, at minimum, to happen between you getting hit by a bus and your family member getting to your bedside? Do you have a dog that needs walking? A plant that needs watering? An experiment in progress that needs monitoring? TAing to cover? Food in the office fridge to be tossed? A cake to buy for an office birthday party? Library books that you left scattered on the road?


Pre-plan for disaster. The plan will probably fall through in some fashion (most people don't get hit by a bus), but having an arrangement worked out in advance is smart. Particularly since you can put your local emergency contact's name alongside of your non-local emergency contact so someone can get there quickly.

Edited by danieleWrites
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I'm so sorry to hear that your child was in an accident, but am very glad they are okay and not seriously injured. 


I honestly recommend EVERYONE carry around a few very important things in their wallet, on their person, at all times. It can be written on a blank business card or index card. Any thicker piece of paper will do:


  • At the top of the card highlight it in lime green (or something distinguishable) and write MEDICAL (this part should be visible from its pocket in your wallet) 
  • Name, and emergency contact(s). Your DOB should be on an ID card anyways. 
  • Medical conditions (any/all). Include disabilities or other health concerns. Asthmatic? Diabetic? Panic disorder? Epilepsy? Pacemaker? That goes here. 
  • Blood type (I have a rare and weird blood issue so I have that listed in the odd case I need a transfusion.) 
  • Allergies (any and all)
  • important medical history (e.g. had a heart attack, stroke, surgery on something major, etc)
  • Prescriptions -- FULL name, dosage of the Rx in mg, and how often you take it. Include the "as needed" prescriptions.
  • Insurance name. 
  • THEN, list pets [if you have no roommate/they aren't your emergency contact] and/or another emergency contact or school/department. An "If hospitalized, please call/email ____ department."

Your emergency contacts should include at least ONE local person (roommate or otherwise), and THEY should be given a similar card with your medical information, your family's contact information, and a list of top priority things to be done (feed your pet), and people to contact, probably your advisor -- with the name of your hospital/ER room/etc. If you don't have a roommate, and DO have a pet/home things which need taking care of you can pre-emptively give your emergency contact a spare key to your apartment, provided you trust them. Otherwise, I would speak to your apartment's landlord/on-site manager/whatever and make them aware of your emergency contact, their name, and that you've instructed this contact to get in touch with the manager/landlord in the case of a dire emergency in order to feed/water/whatever. If your roommate is one contact, have a second one in case you were both in the accident. 


This card can be incredibly helpful, and I actually learned this from my 75 year old grandmother. After donating blood one day, we took her out to lunch, and she began to feel woozy and faint, as well as clammy. We were lucky, there was a woman at a nearby table who gave us medical advice, and the EMTs showed up fairly quickly to assess her. But when they started asking me what prescriptions she took, I didn't know the answer. My grandmother was too woozy to think of specific names, but said they were in her wallet. I found the card very quickly, and gave it to the EMTs which made their inspection and checking her vitals much easier because it took out all the guesswork. She was fine (low on fluids, otherwise healthy), but being able to have everything on one card made the entire scenario less terrifying and more efficient. More than just a contact (which can sometimes be garnered from your phone or ID, or other things in your wallet), you also need vital medical information. 


I have family nearish (about 20 minutes away, and a Doctor), but I still carry the medical card at all times and have a second contact listed. 

Edited by zigzag
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I've also always kept local police/fire department/hospital numbers saved in my cell phone (university and city). I was able to report fallen branches in the road after a thunderstorm, call a hospital's nurse hotline when someone was having a moderate reaction to an insect bite, and report a broken water main near a bus stop (the latter of which probably saved the city TONS of money). I also have local "taxi alternative" apps (Uber and Lyft) on hand so I can get home in a pinch (and suggest them to others as needed).

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Wow, that card thing is a good idea!  I think I'll do one and also make a note in my phone.  I've heard from friends that EMTs tend to look through phones to find emergency contact numbers, so I have my emergency contacts clearly marked in my phone just in case.

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I have epilepsy and like to go out into the woods. I wore medic alert stuff and always broke the chain, but now I've got an ice band (icedot.org) that just broke and needs replaced. Anyway, it's medic alert for people without medical issues, basically, but it's designed for cyclists to wear in case they wreck. Anyone can get one. It has a method for emergency services to contact the company with a unique pin so emergency personnel can get immediate medical information and emergency contact numbers.


The card in the wallet is fabulous idea. I've made one for everyone in my family and stuck it in their wallets (and mine). Just because I have a band doesn't mean the emergency responder will know what to do with it.


I keep my phone locked, so they would have to break the password to get into it.

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As an EMT (ambulance and inpatient ICU), I HATED when I'd encounter a locked phone. None of my patients had emergency cards. If I was lucky, they'd have a drivers license. Unlock your phones or carry a card!

OP, I hope your son is feeling better! It's a little frightening being far from your support system when something is going on. I spent two days in the ER (as a patient) a few weeks ago, alone. Would have been nice to have someone to drive me there! ;)

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