SAFETY HINTS [from our members]


I was searching on the internet for a household product this morning and came across the following database that is available thru the National Institutes of Health (NIH). You can search by categories, types of products, or any ingredient. The section with the title MSDS will show you the Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet for the product.  It is required on products and lists all the ingredients, side effects, and warnings. This database includes products used in Auto, Landscape, Pet Care, Home Maintenance, Inside the House, Personal Care, Arts & Crafts, Home Office and Pesticides.
Buck Martin

Biggest Threat to Laryngectomy Health and Safety

The following is a VERY good article written by David Blevins on Laryngectomy safety!

CALL 911


After reading several suggestions about contacting the local “911” dispatcher regarding my “condition” as a laryngectomee, I recently decided to do so. I felt this especially important, given that I, like many laryngectomees, live alone, AND, it occurred to me that perhaps a situation could arise wherein I would need “911” assistance, but would be unable, for some reason, to actually SPEAK.

First, since I was not really SURE where my local “911” dispatcher was, I called “911” to get the correct office address. I then drove over and popped in for a visit. They could not have been nicer! I explained my “problem” (being a laryngectomee and a “neck-breather”) and asked THEM what information THEY would like to have on hand should I ever call them and be unable to speak. They happily provided me with a short list with which I returned home to complete. The following day I returned to their office with the information which they promptly added to their computer system AND to a back-up Rolodex system. They asked me to go back home, wait an hour or so, and then call them to “test” them … so that I would know that the “system” was up and running as it should be. I did this and, predictably, it worked just fine.

So, now, if I call “911” and am unable to speak, the dispatcher now has immediate access to the following information on me:

(1) Name, Address, Telephone Number, DOB, and that I live alone.
(2) That I am a laryngectomee (no vocal cords), speak via a voice prosthesis, am a total neck breather, have had a single coronary bypass operation, and have O Negative blood type.
(3) Name, Address, & Phone of two emergency contact persons. (An out-of-state primary family contact and one local good friend.)
(4) Name, Address, & Phone of my Primary Physician & ENT.
(5) Listing of the medications that I take daily.
(6) Preferred local hospital for Emergency Care.
(7) Name & Phone of my Medical Insurance Carrier.
(8) My Medic-Alert ID Number they can use to contact Medic-Alert. (I wear a Medic-Alert ID bracelet.)

Needless to say, the experience was painless, short, and, I must admit, LONG OVERDUE. I certainly feel a lot better now about calling “911” if necessary. That I would recommend that ALL of us do this or something similar is a clear understatement. While I am sure each “911” office may have its own unique preference for what information they would like to have, taking the time to provide it would seem well worth the effort and would be a significant contribution to your own “peace of mind.” (Dutch Helms)


At our monthly support group meeting with an Assistant Chief for EMS, he talked about calling the local fire department (non emergency number) and requesting to be entered on their CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system–basically telling them that you are a laryngectomy (neck breather) and MAY not be able to speak for whatever reason. You can ask them to test the system. If they are not busy at that moment, they may have you call 911 to see what shows up on their system. DO NOT CALL 911 to test this out until you ask permission to do so first, otherwise, you may get in a bit of trouble. Anyway, if you do ever call from your HOME PHONE (not cell), and they see this message, they will automatically send an ambulance, not a police car–even if you don’t say anything. Each community may be different in what they can accept into their system. Dutch Helm wrote about this quite a while ago on what all he had in the system where he lived in Texas (this article can be found in the IAL News–November 2008, page 20 and in the WW e-mail archives from June 8, 2003). Our local Fire Department said that Texas is very advanced. Not every system is going to be quite that good.


An Assistant Chief for EMS gave us forms at our support group meeting to fill out with personal information–name, conditions, meds, etc. You can ask your local emergency personnel where they usually look for this information if they have to come to your house. Our speaker said they usually look on the inside of kitchen cupboards, in a plastic bag IN the refrigerator, or on the front of the refrigerator, in your purse or wallet etc. Considering confidentiality, put this information wherever you feel comfortable.


We discussed the CO/Gas monitor for those of us who can’t smell with our nose. We have ours located in our basement near the gas furnace and in our bedroom. At first, we placed the bedroom monitor on the same wall as the register. The alarm went off a couple times at night and even during the day–just plain being annoying. We finally figured it had something to do with the register. We’ve since moved it to another wall and so far, so good. The directions with the monitor say not to place it in the kitchen, and especially if you have a gas stove as whenever you turn the stove on, it will give off enough gas to start the alarm. There is more about the CO/GAS Monitor in the WebWhisper e-mail archives on January 20, 2008.
Vicki Metz [Class of ’96]


I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) is a something that we can enter in our cell phones, and that the emergency personnel are trained to look for as to who to call in case of emergency. There was an article on this in the IAL newsletter found on page 9 of the February 2008 issue and in the WebWhisper e-mail archives from November 9, 2008. You would enter “ICE” (you can then put #1, #2, etc. in the order that you want people called) then a name of a person with their phone number (whoever you would want to be called). You can certainly enter more than one name.
Vicki Metz [Class of ‘96]

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.
If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn’t know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence the ‘ICE’ (In Case of Emergency) Campaign.
The concept of ‘ICE’ is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell (mobile) phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name ‘ICE’ (In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn’t know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as ‘ICE.’

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference.
Raymond Waites

FROM THE LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPT WEBSITE: The Los Angeles Fire Department supports the original ICE concept as a free and potentially helpful tool in the minutes and hours that follow an emergency. However…Contrary to several chain e-mail warnings, ICE is not something that Paramedics rush to look for the instant they arrive at an emergency, and is certainly not required in order for LAFD Paramedics to provide quick, focused and compassionate emergency care.

We tell people: Add ICE contact information in your cell phone only after you’ve affixed similar information to (or near) the official photo identification you routinely carry in your wallet.


With so many types and brands of wireless phones, it can take precious minutes to learn how to access a phone’s directory. Many wireless devices are also found to be locked, damaged or have discharged batteries following an incident, rendering ICE unusable.
Please do encourage your interested friends and colleagues to make a free ICE entry in their cell phone, especially if it will give them peace of mind – but not at the expense of written emergency contact and medical information.

The free original ICE concept works best when it is part of a comprehensive family or business plan for dealing with emergencies and disasters.

Whenever you have questions about the policies and procedures that Firefighter/Paramedics use in handling emergencies, please do not hesitate to visit your Neighborhood Fire Station.

Prior Preparation & Education Can Save Lives

December 1995, Nancy had a laryngectomy after they discovered cancer of the esophagus and voice box (larynx). She had radiation afterwards in an effort to keep the cancer from spreading and encountered other struggles but she was a brave woman and learned to adapt. In 2005, we moved to Missouri and were comforted to know there was a hospital nearby but we later found the hospital was not familiar with, nor equipped to handle, laryngectomees.

The local emergency personnel were unfamiliar with treating people in her situation and did not have the correct supplies. In the end, Nancy died at the hands of uneducated health care workers who were under trained and ill equipped to take care of a laryngectomee. There was confusion about how to give her oxygen. The nurses who treated her were not familiar with the need for suctioning a laryngectomee patient after administering saline solution to loosen the phlegm.

I beg all laryngectomees to take the time to educate their local emergency workers and to let them know where you live. It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain these things when an emergency takes place so please educate them before then.  Write up something for them to quickly read in case they come to your house and are new on the job, as personnel changes happen frequently. Have your number and address flagged so that if you call and can’t speak, they will know there is an emergency.

Please help to spread the word and knowledge concerning laryngectomy patients. Lives depend on it. Please email if you have any questions or suggestions on getting the word out.
Lisa Mcintosh

In Memory of Nancy Ann Schilz.
9/14/45 to 1/19/06

American Heart Association – Hands-Only CPR

CPR. A lifesaving action.
When an adult has a sudden cardiac arrest, his or her survival depends greatly on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location get that help. Most bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong or make things worse. That’s why the AHA has simplified things.

Don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help.
It’s not normal to see an adult suddenly collapse, but if you do, call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Don’t be afraid. Your actions can only help. Take a minute and look around this site and invite your friends! Increasing the number of people who know about Hands-OnlyTM CPR will increase the chance that someone can help when an adult suddenly collapses, and more lives can be saved.

There are several videos to watch and Phone Apps to be downloaded.

New Video from Mayo clinic 1/2010


Watch this video. Have your caregiver watch it.

For reading material from Mayo

Other videos and reports on Hands-Only CPR:

One of the best I’ve seen.
Dave in Florida

ABC – 10/18/10 Excerpt from GMA – Interview

Revised CPR Guidelines

AARP – You Can Save a Life

By taking 60 seconds to learn hands-only CPR — now

HEART.ORG – CPR & First Aid News – List

2010 Guidelines for CPR & Emergency Cardiovascular Care – Article

How To Do Hands – Only CPR

Newsweek – The Shifting Science of CPR

Guidelines stress chest compressions, not mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

There is a video that explains how to provide urgent
respiratory care to laryngectomees  You may want to shared it with the local EMT and
Emergency Room staff.

This video is also on DVD and my father got a free copy of it from Atos.


Emergency card by David Blevins
IAL Rescue Breathing booklets

1. There are two booklets available free of charge from the IAL. These booklets should be requested and given to local Emergency Personnel — both Emergency Room and First Responders. They are available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format.

Rescue Breathing for Laryngectomees and Other Neck Breathers

Respiración De Rescate Para Laringectomizados Y Otros Que Respiran Por El Cuello

2. We had our monthly support group meeting where I had an RN come to speak to us about hands-only CPR.

Prior to our meeting, I read an article that the American Heart Association gave new recommendations on giving CPR. This is good news for laryngectomees as it is HANDS ONLY.

A bit after that announcement, I saw an article in our local newspaper that said the American Heart Association was offering a day of free classes at our Brewers Stadium, and also offered a free CPR kit, and a tour of the stadium.

My husband I attended this class. The first thing we had to do was open our kit, remove the blow-up dummy, and blow it up. Well, that left ME out right there! My husband blew it up. But I’m sure if I had gone alone, one of the instructors would have blown it up for me. I explained to the instructor that I can only do hands-only. They were teaching the traditional way, but she showed us how to do hands-only after we watched a video that was also provided in the kit.

I thought all this was such a good idea, that I contacted the American Heart Association, and was referred to the hospital which also helped sponsor this free class at the stadium. The RN came to our meeting, demonstrated how to do the hands-only CPR, then we each had the opportunity to practice with the blow-up dummy.

The RN also stated that the rate of chest compressions is about 100/minute. If you remember the movie “Saturday Night Fever” with John Travolta, there’s a song in the movie called “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees. The RN said she will often play the song when she’s having a class for the people at the hospital that she is training.
Vicki Metz Class of ‘96

2013 IAL Conference EMT Training

During the IAL conference in Spokane, WA in 2013, a new training program was created. It was to help Emergency Medical personal understand the concerns and needs of a laryngectomee in emergency situations. The program has become a part of the IAL conferences across the country. The following 3 videos have been put on YouTube by the Spokane Fire and Rescue, from that training session. The intent is to share them with anyone, to increase awareness in emergency situations. You can download them from YouTube and put them on a CD to share with your local Fire Departments or medical personal that may not have experience with laryngectomees.

Ed Chapman of Richland, WA was also very instrumental in creating this program. He also has the operating procedures, algorithms and reference material that Spokane County adopted for their medical/first responder personnel. He can be contacted through his email in the members list.

The first video, Laryngeal Anatomy, is presented by Brian Mitchell, DO Spokane Ear Nose and Throat. This highlights the understanding of anatomy of a laryngectomee.

The second video, Laryngeal Communication Methods, presented by Brian Shute, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. This highlights the limitation of a laryngectomy for communication in an emergency situation.

The Third video, Laryngectomies in Distress, is presented by Susan Bruemmer, M.S., CCC-SLP and Tamara Drapeau, Paramedic-FTO. This video helps to understand other concerns and problems a laryngectomee may face in an emergency situation.