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Whether you're using a medical alert system or filling out a form at the doctor's office, someone will likely ask you for emergency contacts. In many emergencies, you might not be able to make decisions or communicate with responders, such as if you've had a heart attack or have injuries from an accident.

The first-alert contact you choose can have a significant effect on the outcome of any emergency. Even if you're able to immediately alert your medical monitoring services, emergency personnel might be busy or far away. They might not make it to your location for a while, which increases the chance of permanent damage from medical emergencies such as strokes or heart attacks, when every minute counts. Having a first-alert contact such as a next-door neighbor means you can get help quickly, potentially reducing the severity of the outcome.

There are several areas to consider when deciding on your first-alert contact. While it might seem like a simple and even meaningless choice at first, it's always best to be prepared for any emergency. When deciding who to put as your emergency contact, consider the following:

Is It Someone You Trust?
Whoever you choose as an emergency contact has to be someone you both trust to respond appropriately and can entrust a house key to. Generally, your first-alert contact needs access to your home in case he or she needs to check on you and you can't get to the door. That means you have to let them know if you've hidden a spare key in the flowerpot or give them the spare outright.

It also can be a time- and lifesaver if your first-alert contact has important personal information about you concerning your medical history or insurance. The contact should also be someone reliable, who you know will come when called or let you know beforehand if there are times when they can't. Your life and health are important, and choosing an emergency contact means putting both in someone else's hands.

Is It Someone Who Lives Near You?
If you have an emergency, you don't want to have to wait for half an hour or longer for your emergency contact to get to you. When medical emergencies happen, the severity of the injury can get worse with every passing second. Then there are the times when the medical monitoring services just need to call someone to check on you. If you absolutely must have a first-alert contact who lives several hours or several states away, at least determine a closer additional or secondary contact.

Are You Able to Have More Than One Contact?
Anyone you choose as your emergency contact probably has a regular life and day-to-day commitments. Because emergencies can happen any time, your first-alert contact may be at work, picking up kids from day care or hiking in the mountains when one strikes. Even the most reliable contact might have a doctor's appointment or phones-off meeting at work. In those instances, you'll want to know that even if your first choice can't reach the phone, someone else you trust can.

Deciding on a first-alert contact can be difficult, but it can also be a lifesaver. Of course, once you've narrowed down the list of potential contacts, you'll want to ask them if they're comfortable being your emergency contact. If they are, then you'll also want to discuss with them what both of you can expect should an emergency ever happen. While a medical alert device is a great tool to use during emergencies, it's the people on the other end and the people who answer the call who will save you in the end.

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