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The History and Origins of the Medical Alert Symbol

If you have never been to a hospital for treatment of a severe condition, the chances that you have never noticed the medical alert symbol are high. This symbol is present in almost all the healthcare facilities, and while one might think that it is purely aesthetical, it is not. It has come a long way and is very important to a specified category of people who use it when seeking emergency healthcare services. In this piece, we are going to look at the history of the medical alert symbol and outline its modern-day uses.

The History of the Medical Alert Symbol

This symbol is comprised of a snake coiled on a staff. It represents health and healing, and these go down to the individual meanings of the two features of the symbol. You will find it displayed on medical centers, ambulances, watches phones, and medibands.

There are two variations of the medical alert symbol; the Staff of Asclepius and the Caduceus symbol. The Staff of Asclepius comprises of a single snake coiled around the staff. It derives its name from the Greek god Asclepius. This god was Apollo’s son and a Greek doctor renowned for his healing abilities. The Greeks called him the god of medicine and healing, and some tales pointed out his ability to bring the dead back to life.

The Caduceus symbol has two snakes wrapped around the staff with wings on top of it. The wings are a tribute to the god Hermes and his speed. He was a messenger in ancient times and could deliver messages very fast thanks to the wings on his shoes. This symbol does not only represent health and healing but adds an element of speed to it.

It is believed that the staff on both symbols was derived from the Old Testament when God told Moses to get a staff and snake.

The star with six-pointers is the Star of Life, and it has been in circulation since 1967. Initially, this star was used to identify medical personnel and equipment, but you will find it most medical-related items today. All the six points have different meanings as highlighted below.

1. Early Detection

This point applies to the first responders in any medical emergency, even if they are not trained medical personnel. It requires that they assess the incident, understand the problem, identify potential hazards to them, and the affected, and take the necessary steps to uphold their safety. This moment is vital as the medical emergence alert ID can save time and lives.

2. Early Reporting

Here, responders are required to contact professional help. Different countries use varying call codes for this purpose and ensure that you know the ones that apply for your region.

3. Early Response

The first responders should provide adequate first aid to the best of their capabilities.

4. On Scene Care

Once the emergency medical personnel get on the scene, they should offer immediate care and first aid before transporting the patient to a healthcare facility.

5. Care in Transit

While moving, medical personnel should continue to take care of the patient, regardless of how they are being transported.

6. Transfer to Definitive Care

Once the patient gets to a specialized medical care facility, they should be transferred to a place where they will get appropriate medical care from the specialists.

Benefits of the Medical Alert Symbol and Medical IDs

You might be wondering why all these details are essential, but the medical ID symbol can help you get specialized care whenever you are involved in an emergency. In an emergency, you might not be in a position to communicate your medical history to the first responders or the specialized emergency medical personnel who come on sites. This way, a medical alert symbol is a great way to communicate vital information to paramedics, without talking to them.

This ID is vital for those suffering from conditions such as asthma, diabetes, allergies, and hypertension, among others. Not wearing your ID can have severe consequences since you never know when and where an emergency will strike. With one, you can go about your day to day activities with peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to you, the medical ID will quickly identify you and your underlying conditions. If you are diagnosed with a severe medical condition, ensure that you get a medical ID as soon as possible. Failing to wear it can lead to;

• Wrong diagnosis of symptoms
• Delay of appropriate care and treatment
• Possible exposure to medications that you could be allergic to or ones that are harmful to your prevalent medical condition
• Possibility of increased severity of current injuries
• Unnecessary admission into a medical facility
• Risk of miscommunication to law enforcers, especially for those with mental conditions

Note that medical IDs are not uniform, and not everyone has to know that you are wearing one. It is easy to add some style to it as they come in various forms such as bracelets and wristbands made of different materials and varying colors. The most important part is the medical alert symbol and the information engraved on it. In the event of an emergency, the first responders will notice the logo and immediately know that it is an ID with relevant medical information.

When getting a medical ID, ensure that the information is engraved in an easy to read font. This will help the responders gather this information quickly and ensure that you get the right treatment in a timely fashion. A good example is a case of an asthmatic patient who gets an attack. They are left speechless in such situations and cannot explain their condition to anyone. A medical ID can quickly let the responder know about the disease and get their pump or any other medical assistance needed. In such an instance, oblivion might force the responder to call the paramedics, which only wastes time when the problem could be solved by giving the patient their inhaler.


A medical ID is paramount if you are suffering from a severe condition, and it does not have to bother you. Many people are skeptical of getting one since they do disclose their medical condition to the public. Luckily, you are spoilt for choice in terms of the designs available today, and you can get something that is both functional and stylish. You can don it with your formal or casual wear, and no one will even think that it is a medical ID unless you are involved in an emergency.

While the aesthetic part of it is vital, be sure to include all the necessary information on this ID. Some of the top things to include are;

• Medical condition
• Any specific medications you might be tacking
• Available medical devices such as a pacemaker, inhaler or pump
• Blood type
• Communication challenges such as autism, schizophrenia or deafness
• Do not resuscitate orders

The more information you include on your Medical ID, the easier it is to get you appropriate care. This is because not everyone has a straightforward medical condition, and it is easy to get tied up with two or find yourself under medication that does not go well with other medicines. Assume that you need to narrate your situation to a paramedic, and the only means of communication available is the bracelet. Medical authorities recommend that people wear medical IDs, but there are no guidelines on what information they should contain. This way, it is easy for the companies selling these accessories to dictate the information they want to include, leading to miscommunication. Avoid such bottlenecks by explicitly describing your condition to help the paramedics when they attend to you.


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