“What’s in your wallet” In Case of an Emergency?”

Summer of 2017, at the age of 43, I suffered a massive stroke. It happened on a  routine ho-hum summer day, shortly after I got home from work. My mom was there, THANK GOD. She was at my house, watching my kids while I was at clinic. Thankfully, I was fairly lucid when the symptoms hit. BUT I was extremely dizzy. Room-spinning-around-me-making-me-want-to-vomit dizzy (in medical terms, technically I was vertiginous). When my mom found me, I was able to murmur “Mom, get my work bag, it’s upstairs by the door”.

I grabbed my driver’s license, and the emergency info I keep behind the ID. On that card was my doctor’s name and medical facility. I gave these items to the paramedics when they arrived. In the ambulance, they asked me if I preferred to go to that hospital. I said “absolutely” as my PCP and medical care have all been there for over a decade. They grabbed my cards, leaving my wallet behind, and off we went to the hospital – gurney in ambulance, sirens and all.

This might sound trivial, but it is so so so important to have an ICE card in your wallet. Think of your family and loved ones, and how they would be contacted if you were in an emergency! If you are a planner girl, like me, you have all kinds of doodads and whatsits in your wallet or planner. However, the number one most important thing you need to have, in addition to your ID, is an emergency contact card. Keep it with your ID.  Display it prominently. There may not be time to look for your emergency contact info behind your dashboard and sticky notes, when responders are figuring out how to care for you in an emergency.

I have a vivid memory of being on the trauma service when I was training to be a doctor. While caring for a car accident victim, I remember flipping through the (unconscious) patient’s wallet, trying to figure out who to call. His cell phone was locked. We had no way to contact the family. They eventually showed up – hours later. Please don’t do this to your family! Have your In Case of Emergency card with your ID and other essentials.

Here’s how I keep ICE information handy:

ICE Planner photo

I sell this printable card in my Etsy shop


This is what it looks like after it is printed and cut out. (glam pen not included. haha!)

ICE Shop Photo


In conclusion, though it may seem trivial. Keep an ICE (In Case of Emergency) card in your wallet with your ID. Just set it and forget it. As someone who has had Emergency Room experience as both a doctor and a patient, I have witnessed FIRST HAND the importance and benefit of having one available.  Hopefully you will NEVER need it.  Here’s a thought, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it” -my brother A., an outdoor and wilderness emergency first responder