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Get Carded: Emergency Contact Procedures

Every week, the news includes a story on an EMS provider who was injured or killed while at work. Although line-of-duty deaths inherently create stress within an organization, other stressors can be avoided, including how to best serve the family and friends of your employees during such emergencies. A simple procedure and short form can help your organization be prepared in the event of a serious employee injury or death.

Like that of any other pre-planning your organization does, the development of emergency contact procedures and emergency contact information card or sheet is needed before an event occurs. If an employee is hurt or killed, you don t want to be scrambling to determine what to do, whom to contact, or how to contact them. Especially when the worker is seriously injured, you must be able to quickly contact the appropriate family members and ensure they are able to get to the right hospital.

I recommend that all managers develop an emergency notification card. The data from this card can be entered into a database. Either way, the information should be verified or updated by every employee at least once a year or when changes occur. Another necessity is that the card box or database be easily accessible by a supervisor or shift commander. Remote access, such as from their vehicle, is ideal, but access from their office after normal operational hours is a good back-up.

The card contains such basic information as the employee s name, address and contact numbers (home phone, cell phone and/or pager). The card also lists the employee s blood type. (As an aside, a master list of employee blood types makes it easier to determine which employees have matching blood types in the event that a coworker needs a blood donation for an emergency surgery.)

The second part of the card contains information on their emergency contacts the names, addresses and contact numbers of those whom the employee wishes to be notified in the event they are seriously injured or killed. For example, they may have a spouse or other family member they want you as the employer to notify first. There should be two names, in the event the first person is not available. This documentation also prevents you from guessing who should be contacted and possibly notifying a family member your employee wishes you hadn t.

The third part lists the names of coworkers whom your employee wants to accompany a supervisor or chief officer to their home to speak with their family. Most members would want a friend or someone who knows their family to help make the notification. Coworkers will often know an employee s family members better than supervisors or chiefs do, and they can help get the family to the hospital or begin making arrangements for the deceased employee.

The fourth part contains information about religious preference or clergy notification and any special notes the employee wants you to keep in mind. Perhaps the employee is an organ donor or wishes to donate their entire body to science. They may also include information about whether they want an official or private funeral.

Employee injury and death is a delicate subject, and it may be difficult to discuss when you first approach the subject with your employees. Explaining that this procedure will benefit their family members and help avoid delays in notifications will usually assure them of your intent. Remind them that it s not a predictor that something bad will happen to them, but rather a proactive approach by your organization to be prepared to protect them and their families.

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