The discussion from my post a few weeks ago on Getting Started had a lot of great information from the community on biking to work, and one of the most frequent items that kept popping up was Road ID®.
I keep copies of my drivers license and medical information on my bike, but shortly after investigating the idea behind Road ID I re-assessed my methods of emergency identification and included what I had learned during first responder training. The truth is that having a drivers license and photocopies of insurance in a bag/pouch or keeping a wallet on your person is a step, but in an accident these items can become scattered or inaccessible. This is when having a Road ID tag or something similar can really make a difference.
What is it?
Road ID is a metal tag that quickly relays vital identifying, medical, and emergency contact information which can be utilized by first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.
How do I use it?
There are multiple variations of Road ID, all of which are easily worn on an individual while running, hiking, cycling, or any other active endeavor that has some injury risk.
Why would someone need this?
While having a DL/photocopies of insurance on your person can be used to ID you, in an accident these items can become scattered or inaccessible. The benefit of wearing identification is that there is immediate information relayed to response teams whether you're conscious or out-cold.
Here's the bottom line
If you get hit and are unconscious/disoriented you will not have the ability to respond properly to important questions. EMTs and first responders are trained to rapidly assess and stabilize your condition while gathering as much information as they can about you to prevent any harmful treatments. Many individuals have a belief that medics want to know emergency contact person or your blood type, but the most important information they can receive is the following (from EMT-B and first responder training):
S – Signs and symptoms
A – Allergies
M – Medications
P – Pertinent past medical history
L – Last oral intake
E – Events leading to injury/illness
In addition you are trained to look for any identifying medical jewelry or tags during your initial assessment. This is where the Road ID, medical alert bracelets, or other forms of wearable identification come into play.
Purchasing, Shipping Time, and Initial Impressions
While I was working on this post I decided to go through and order an ID to see how long it would take to create and ultimately get to me.
I chose to purchase both a Standard and Interactive tag. Overall time from start to finish for each was about 15 minutes, and this is because I had to make a decision on what information I wanted the Interactive tag to immediately convey upon viewing. I had a coupon that I utilized leaving my total around 38 dollars.
I placed my order on a Sunday and received the product on Thursday morning (from Kansas to California). They were quick.
The packaging was simple and compact. Inside was a second package with the name and info that was on the ID as well as an invoice and more coupons.
The material itself on the sport band is really comfortable and I hardly notice it while I'm riding. The velcro strap is highly secure and allows great flexibility in size adjustment. Overall it feels very well built and I know it will be up to the beating it's going to receive over time.
Variations of Road ID:
Road ID offers two main types of tags: Standard and Interactive. The main difference between the two is that the interactive version allows you to link your tag to a profile that contains personalized medical and emergency contact information accessible by phone or online in an emergency situation.
My personal assessment of the two models is as follows:
The standard tag has 6-lines of custom text (24 characters a line) in which you can put your name, emergency contacts, birth year, or any pertinent allergies/medical alerts.
This will be fit for an individual that does not have a critical allergy to two or more antibiotics, is free of any chronic medical conditions, and does not take significant dietary supplements. This also would act as a good ID tag for kids while on a vacation or during a weekend camping trip.
The interactive tag has up to four lines of customizable text, however 2 of the 4 need to be instructions for first responders or medical professionals.
Those who have allergies that need to be identified immediately (ie. penicillin), chronic or significant conditions (cardiac, auto-immune diseases, etc), or a significant medical history. The benefit here is that you can build a medical profile that is accessible over the phone or online after the serial number and pin on the back has been entered. While this may not be something that will benefit the EMT's/first responders, it will make accessing records a lot faster if you're sent to a trauma center with nothing but this tag identifying you.
Aside from medical information it is also easier to update your profile online as information changes, create extra emergency contacts, and address any important instructions you want followed.
Setting up the Emergency Response Profile (interactive tag):
*It does cost $9.99 per year for online profile linked to a tag, however you get 1 free year with each interactive tag linked. This is stackable, so if you purchase 2 tags and link them to one profile you get 2 years for free.
**You can set up an ERP before you actually receive your Road ID. Once the tag has been delivered you are then able to link your serial number and pin to the online profile.
Once you get past initial account creation (~5 minutes), you'll be able to start working on the Emergency Response Profile. Setting this up will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour depending on your medical history, so get yourself a cup of tea, gather the essentials listed below, and get started.
Things you will need:
- Drivers License, Passport Info (useful info if traveling out of the country)
- Current medications (including supplements/multivitamins)
- -Medical Information-
- Blood type, previous major procedures, allergies, known conditions.
- Primary physician contact info
- Medical and Dental Insurance
On the last page I included a list of my vaccinations and when they were administered. It does allow a lot of personalization and you should add whatever you feel like.
"Ask your physician to review your Emergency Response Profile as provided by the Road ID Emergency Response System. He or she may offer suggestions as to how your Emergency Response Profile may be more accurately and effectively displayed." ~ Section 1.2 on the Road ID agreement
Which ID tag is right for me?
This one will be up to your personality. They offer a variety of different bands associated with tag-styles, and each one has its own price-point, sizes, and color choices.
A note on sizing: The website has a very good outline for each style on how to size up your wrist for the best fit.
In the scenario that you lose or need to update the information displayed on the tag replacements cost $16-$17 dollars. The replacement tags can also be used to receive a free year for your online profile (interactive version only).
I liked this
A portion of every purchase will be donated to one of eleven charities that you get to choose from upon checkout.
"If you are not satisfied with our products for any reason, simply return them for a full refund or exchange. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. [...] the laser engraved, stainless steel ID carries a LIFETIME GUARANTEE. If you are tough enough to wear it out, return it and we'll send you a new one." ~Road ID Website
While you could easily get away with purchasing an animal identifying tag from the pet store or utilize something like a medical information card stored in your bike, these options aren't as flexible and informative as the Road ID bracelet. Additionally, Road ID has become more prevalent in the biking community and many EMT's and first responders are being trained to look for these identifying tags and how to use them. It never hurts to be prepared for accidents, and since time is a very critical component of treatment outcomes the investment in having something of this nature is near priceless.
Alternatives to the Road ID:
By no means am I trying to tell everyone to run to the online store and purchase this. I just felt it was a great idea and has a well thought out system in place.
Website image reproduction authorized by Road ID
Other photos by Joseph Skeate