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Secure health info profiles can help first responders in emergencies

Free Press staff report | 6/24/2021, 6 p.m.
Richmond residents can create a digital health profile that paramedics and other emergency personnel can access after a health emergency ...
Mr. Willoughby

Richmond residents can create a digital health profile that paramedics and other emergency personnel can access after a health emergency strikes, the city Department of Emergency Communications has announced.

This new online offering is the first outgrowth of the new Marcus Alert System, named for 24-year-old biology teacher Marcus-David Peters, who was shot and killed by a Richmond Police officer in 2018 as he was experiencing what has been described as a mental health crisis and charged the officer.

The personal health information can be posted securely online at www.emergencyprofile.org with only the department and first responders having access, stated Stephen Willoughby, director of the department.

Information provided voluntarily by an individual could range from blood type to pre-existing conditions, allergies, mental health issues, emergency contacts and other pertinent informa- tion, Mr. Willoughby stated.

By having that information, the department’s staff and first responders can be more informed about existing health issues that could affect treatment, he noted. To help maintain privacy, he stated that the information would be linked to a personal phone number.

He urged “community members to create their free emergency health profile, ensuring they are able to share critical data with the 911 system.”

Richmond, like other Virginia localities, is required to create and offer this kind of voluntary database under the new alert system that Gov. Ralph S. Northam signed into law in December.

City Hall officials said the new health profile database is one of several initiatives city staff and the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority will be launching this year to comply with the new law.

Rather than creating its own database, Richmond tapped into a program that emergency technology company RapidSOS created in partnership with the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and Direct Relief, a nonprofit agency.