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MedicAlert IDs the Missing Link in Diabetes Emergency Preparedness

One in ten hospital admissions are related to people needing medical care for conditions resulting from diabetes* which is why MedicAlert Foundation Canada is protecting newly diagnosed people by identifying a simple list of safety tips.

If you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes chances are you're learning how proper diet, exercise and monitoring of blood sugar levels contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle.  And while education and condition management is essential, experts say that emergency preparedness is one area that people newly diagnosed with diabetes shouldn't neglect.

“At the scene of an emergency, one of the most common and important tests we do is check blood sugar levels to detect diabetes,” says Glen Gillies, Paramedic, Toronto EMS.  “On an average day EMS across the country respond to a number of diabetes-related calls.  When people have a MedicAlert ID it's incredibly helpful, because we can get immediate access to a complete list of their medication and dosage from MedicAlert and have that information ready for the emergency team at the hospital,” says Gillies.

Live with Diabetes? Be Prepared and Wear a MedicAlert ID.

“With more than 20 Canadians being diagnosed with diabetes every hour of every day, the incidents of diabetes-related emergencies are on the rise,” says Dr. Alice Cheng, Endocrinologist at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.  “It's important for people with diabetes to be able to recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar, know how to treat it and more importantly, how to avoid future episodes so that fewer diabetes-related emergencies occur.  Often, people who are newly diagnosed are at greater risk, since they may administer too much or too little insulin – and may not recognize the signs that their body is in distress,” she adds.

The Canadian Diabetes Association, Dr. Cheng and Paramedic Glen Gillies all recommend that everyone who lives with diabetes, wears a MedicAlert ID.  In fact, the number of Canadians who live with diabetes and protect themselves with a MedicAlert ID has almost doubled since 2004.

In addition to wearing a lifesaving MedicAlert ID, Dr. Cheng and Paramedic Gillies also recommend you get prepared with a simple emergency preparedness plan:

Update your MedicAlert profile regularly

  • Your medications and dosages should be kept on file with MedicAlert's state-of-the-art secure database.  When you do bi-annual checkups or have any medication changes make sure you contact MedicAlert with the up-to-date information while it's fresh in your mind.

Share a list of your medications with those around you

  • When you update your profile MedicAlert provides you with a print out of your medications that you can share with friends, family and coworkers.  As an added precaution, keep a copy in your wallet and save the information provided by MedicAlert to your smart phone.

Always be prepared

  • Have glucose kits and your medications available at work, school and any other place you frequent often.  You should also carry glucose tablets with you to elevate your levels in case your blood sugar drops.

Learn early warning signs and symptoms

  • Gillies recommends that you learn to identify high and low blood sugar symptoms and encourages that you call 911 if you feel you're in danger.


  • Cold, clammy or sweaty skin
  • Pallor (pale skin)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Shakiness, lack of coordination
  • Irritability, hostility or poor behavior
  • A staggering gait
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive hunger
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision or dizziness
  • Abdominal pain or nausea
  • Fainting or unconsciousness


  • Thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Ketoacidosis (diabetic coma)

About MedicAlert Foundation Canada

MedicAlert Foundation Canada (MAFCA) is the largest membership-based registered charity in Canada. It is the leading provider of emergency medical information services. More than one million Canadians have been protected  by their services. For over 50 years, its mission is to protect Canadians and save lives. 

While there are a number of medical ID devices on the market, only MedicAlert ID is supported by a unique, 24/7 emergency hotline service staffed with medical professionals ready to provide information and recognize conflicting treatments and medications that could put your care at risk.

The Foundation's services include electronic health records, a state-of-the-art secure database, a 24-hour emergency hotline for EMS personnel and customized identification products. Learn more about MedicAlert, how it works, and how you or a loved one can become a member at or by calling 1-866-679-3166.


For more information, contact Kertney Russell or David Weinstein at Strategic Objectives.

Tel: 1-866-366-7733 X241 Email:

* Source: Canadian Diabetes Association