Making a health emergency plan? Make E.R.I.K. a part of it

Emergency Response Information Kit (E.R.I.K.)

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Medical emergencies can happen anytime. Putting an emergency plan in place is crucial, especially if you or a person you live with has a medical condition that can lead to sudden attacks or seizures. Aside from making emergency numbers easily accessible and having an emergency kit part of your plan, having an E.R.I.K. could be the best tool that can save your life.

What is an E.R.I.K.?

It stands for Emergency Response Information Kit. In emergency situations, a patient may not be able to speak to inform paramedics of their condition, medical history or allergies. Even when the patient is with another person during the emergency, more often than not, they can be too overwhelmed or scared to remember details. This failure to communicate essential health information can delay or deter proper medical care. An E.R.I.K. provides essential health information for emergency personnel so that they can correctly and quickly respond to a medical situation. It consists of:

  • a health information form which should contain your name, address, health card numbers, next of kin, family physician, medical history, allergies, and medications (your health care professional, pharmacist or family may assist you in filling it out)
  • a place to insert your Health Care Directive
  • blue organ donor card (not mandatory)
  • a sticker for the front entrance of your house (which alerts paramedics to look for your E.R.I.K.)
  • a plastic folder
  • a magnet to hold the information packet in place on your refrigerator door

The kit is ideal for seniors, chronically ill persons, those who live alone or have caregivers, and those with speech or language difficulties. You can also take a copy of your E.R.I.K. when you take a trip. What is important is that you update the information on your kit as your medical needs change (e.g. new medications, allergies, etc.). If you already have the kit and just need to update information, you can download a blank form here: ERIK Health Information Form, or go to this page on the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service site.

The E.R.I.K. is the brainchild of Winnipeg paramedic, Janice Johnson. It was developed with the Boni-Vital Council for Seniors, community agencies, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services, and the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association in 2002. Emergency responders, fire fighters, police, those working with seniors and health care professionals are aware of the E.R.I.K. It has been endorsed by area emergency groups and has saved countless lives in the province.

How can newcomers benefit from it?

Everyone, especially those with medical conditions can benefit from having an E.R.I.K. It can be particularly useful for newcomers who find it difficult to explain their health condition in English or French. With everything about your medical condition and needs already written down in English or French in your kit, emergency responders won’t have to ask you questions. This means less stress and worry for you.

Where do I get it? Is it for free?

The kits are available at all Seniors Community Resource Councils in the province or at any Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Station. You can also call Boni-Vital Council for Seniors. It is free for anyone, and for any age. Agencies, meanwhile, can purchase kits through their local resource councils.

Sources: Seniors Resource Network, WRHA, and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

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Community Resources

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service can present to your group or community about the use and importance of the E.R.I.K. You can contact their EMS Public Education Coordinator to request for a free briefing at least three weeks in advance.Go to this page School or Community Visits for more information.

To learn more about preparing for and dealing with health emergencies, read What to do in a health emergency.

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Quiz

Making a health emergency plan? Make E.R.I.K. a part of it

Select the correct synonym(s) for each word as used in the article above. Please note that some questions have more than one answer.

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