How a fridge and a bottle can save lives

Rothwell, Lions Club giving away fridge cases to vulnerable people to put their medical details inside in case they fall unconscious in their own homes and paramedics need to know about them Lions Life Line- l-r David Cottrell and Roy Owen 'Friday, 09 December 2011
Rothwell, Lions Club giving away fridge cases to vulnerable people to put their medical details inside in case they fall unconscious in their own homes and paramedics need to know about them Lions Life Line- l-r David Cottrell and Roy Owen 'Friday, 09 December 2011

The simplest ideas are often the best and the Lions’ Life Line seems to prove this.

The Life Line, or Message in a Bottle, was started about 10 years ago by the charity and has become a huge success, with more than 250,000 bottles being distributed throughout the country since then.

Roy Owen, of Rowell Lions, was at the launch of the scheme, which has its origins in the county.

He said: “Graham King, of Daventry, organised it, he did the groundwork and worked out all the costs. To begin with just the 12 Lions clubs in Northamptonshire were in the scheme, but it has since expanded and more than 800 clubs are involved.” Message in a Bottle is a plastic container and inside it is a questionnaire for the bottle’s owner to fill in. The questions include details of any drug therapy or illness that might affect emergency treatment, allergic reactions, where any medication is kept and details of people to contact in an emergency.

Mr Owen said: “In some ways one of the most important bits of information the questionnaire asks for is a first name. When someone is slumped on the floor they react better if a paramedic or doctor can use their first name.”

Message in a Bottle is supported by the ambulance, police and fire and rescue services and emergency doctors, who have all been involved from the start. The information the bottle contains can help save valuable time in an emergency by cutting out the need to ask the patient basic questions.

The bottle is kept in the fridge because, as Mr Owen explained: “Most kitchens have lots of places to store things so by the time the emergency services had found the bottle the person could be dead.

“Most kitchens also have fridges so it made sense to suggest keeping it in there.”

There are also two stickers for people to put just inside the front door and on the fridge door to alert the emergency services there is a Message in a Bottle.

The scheme is funded by the Lions, and to keep costs down the bottles are filled by prisoners in various jails. The bottles are given out for free to people who request them, young or old.

After the initial push, publicity for the scheme was allowed to fall away before Mr Owen decided to resurrect it again recently, a decision that has been vindicated by the enormous response he’s received.

He said: “A little piece went out in the Evening Telegraph and that morning, before my wife and I had even had our copy of the paper delivered we got the first call of many asking for a bottle.

“I’ve done more than 40 talks to all sorts of groups and everyone has enthused about the scheme. I must have given away at least 2,000 bottles and Lions in Northamptonshire have given away about 40,000.”

One whole-hearted supporter of Message in a Bottle is Katrina Mayer, the centre co-ordinator at the Victoria Centre in Wellingborough. She said: “It’s a brilliant idea and such a fantastic thing for us to be able to offer our users.

“The groups that use the centre are prime groups really for this scheme and we’ve been telling everyone who comes in about it.

“On Wednesday we took delivery of 50 bottles and by the end of the day more than half had gone, and I’m sure we’ll be needing more very soon. It’s another tool and gives people peace of mind, it’s like the ICE [In Case of Emergency] number people have on their mobile phones, but for people who might not have mobiles. They can carry the bottle round with them as well and it reassures them because it has all their details on it in case they can’t converse for whatever reason.”

As Mr Owen said: “I hope no-one ever has to use it but even if this scheme saves just one life it will have been worth it.”

If you would like a Message in a Bottle call Mr Owen on 01536 710007.