Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shout or whisper...

One of the first items I purchased after Sarah was diagnosed with diabetes, was a charm bracelet. It's one of those cute Italian charm bracelets with lots of space for fun charms that represent Sarah. Oh... and it has a medical alert symbol on one of the charms. And as cute as it is, it was a mistake to think it would serve the purpose of a medical alert bracelet.

1. It comes off far too easily.
2. It pinches her arms a bit, and is a little heavy, so she took it off within a few days.
3. It pretty much just looks like a traditional Italian charm bracelet.

The purpose of a medical alert bracelet is to ensure that if you are not able to speak for yourself and tell the paramedics or doctors about a serious medical condition, that they'll be able to figure it out without your help.

Paramedics are trained to look for medical alert bracelets.
Sarah's bracelet
If they're even looking in the first place, you are probably unconscious, and they're trying to save your life - Gulp! If you can't speak, you want your choice in medical alert jewelry to SHOUT for you. "Hey Mr. Paramedic! This person has [insert illness here]!".

The truth is, a medical alert bracelet is like insurance in case of emergency. Most people probably don't end up using it, but it's there if needed. For my fellow mama's with kids with diabetes, there are few times where our kids are out of our sight. Sarah's either with me, or with people who already know she has diabetes, 24 hours per day. Even if she had a severe low at school, at theater practice, at a friends house, the first thing they would tell paramedics is that she's a type 1 diabetic - I have no doubt.

But... (and I hate even writing this, but it needs to be stated) what if she was with me or a friend, and was in a car accident? What if I, or her friend, were not conscious? What if she was unconscious? What if she was unconscious because the stress or adrenaline or circumstances resulted in a dangerously low blood sugar?What if the paramedic who arrived didn't see that she had a medical alert bracelet identifying her as a type 1 diabetic and didn't even know she needed an immediate shot of glucagon?

I love the cute medical jewelry out there, I really do. And I think if your child likes it, and it gets them to wear it, awesome! But keep in mind that the goal of the jewerly is to be seen in case of a serious emergency. What if they're 95% likely to notice a traditional bracelet, but only 70% likely to notice a beaded bracelet. What if they're only 25% likely to notice a woven bracelet?

I don't know why, but it bothers me to think that there's even a CHANCE that a paramedic might overlook Sarah's bracelet, or any other child with diabetes or other illness. So I just urge you to look at your child's jewelry from a paramedics perspective. Is it obviously a medical alert piece? What if it was turned around, would the paramedic know to check the other side by looking at the visable portion?

That's all I wanted to say. This has been bothering me all week since I saw a picture of a bracelet which was totally adorable, but only had one small bead with a medical alert symbol. Please just think about this, and consider whether at that most serious moment, when a paramedics actions could mean the difference between life and death - will your bracelet


or whisper...

In order to improve our ability to help keep Sarah safe, she will soon be getting a diabetes alert dog. If you are interested in helping Sarah with this, please visit her facebook page at or her website at


  1. I think this is a good point! I have seen a lot of those types of bracelets, and being in the medical area myself, I think it would be difficult to tell if the bracelet was just part of the outfit-- or if it was a medical alert bracelet.

    I always wear a traditional one. I used to have a nice necklace one a long time ago when I was first diagnosed, but lost it in the swimming pool. :( I finally got a nicer one about 1.5 years ago and it really was good timing, because 2 days later I broke both of my ankles and when the paramedics came, they were looking at it.

    Good point to bring up!

  2. This is a challenging question... I've lost some flimsy bracelets before, too, so kind of know part of this annoyance. I think I like the idea of contacting local EMTs to see what they'd look for, or be most confident they'd catch, in case of an emergency... I guess, in essence, what would SHOUT for them. Probably something with the big red star, or whatever that's called. Mine sorta looks like a watch, and is leathery, and doesn't move much... and no ornaments to lose. I think it's probably okay. Some people love MedicAlert Jewelry, cus they have a phone system of people that the EMTs can call and get all your info from... It's pricey, though.


Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!