One little jar can save so many lives


Harriet Mirsajadi, left, Amy Matthews, Joseph Downs, a Brevard County deputy, and Theresa Russell show off the Vile of Life containers that were handed out during the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event on June 14

Darrell Woehler

A small canister about the size of a cold cream jar can save your life.

It doesn’t contain a magic elixir, but it holds vital information when an emergency occurs, and all you need to do is pop it in the fridge.

Created by Brevard County Fire Rescue, Brevard County TRIAD, the Brevard County Healthcare Coalition and several other organizations, the Vial of Life initiative revolves around the free distribution of a small white plastic canister that is placed on the door of the refrigerator. The container holds sheets of paper that include the personal information that emergency responders need. Two accompanying stickers alert responders to its existence.

“You place one in the door of the refrigerator and the other on the front door, and emergency responders have been trained to recognize these stickers and know you have written down the information necessary for treatment,” said Theresa Russell, the senior human services program specialist for the Department of Children and Families’ Adult Protective Services.

Contributions from participating agencies enabled the purchase of more than 10,000 Vials of Life to be distributed throughout the Space Coast. They can be picked up from healthcare providers, fire departments and at many senior healthcare events. The cost — absolutely nothing.

“We’re trying to be very proactive and, whenever possible, we help people fill out the information on the spot,” Russell said.

The personal information sheet stored inside the vials contains medical history, current medications, blood type, contact information for guardian or family members and the name of physicians and other medical services providers. Even the number of pets in the home and the phone number of the pet sitter is included in the details to be shared with the responders. A Vial of Life also can be placed in a vehicle in the case of an accident.

Information sheets for all members of a household will fit within the Vial of Life.

“It’s not just for seniors, it’s for the entire family,” Russell said.

For example, should a medical emergency occur in a household with young children when they are being cared for by a sitter, first responders can garner all vital details on the youngsters by just reaching for the Vial of Life.

“The information you provide can mean life or death,” Russell said.

For information on Vial of Life, contact the Brevard Fire Rescue community health resources program coordinator Mark Weiss at 321-633-2056 or Theresa Russell at 321-288-6684.