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How we started, and where we are now
At 14 years old, Linda Collins cut her fingers while out shooting in Turlock, California, USA. During treatment, she was given a skin test for a dose of tetanus antitoxin and went into near-fatal anaphylactic shock.
Luckily, she survived; however, if Linda had been given a full dose, she may not have survived. Her parents, Dr Marion and Chrissie Collins, now more aware of Linda’s vulnerability in an emergency, would attach a note to Linda's coat describing her allergies whenever she was away from home.
When Linda started university, they wanted something more permanent so they designed a metal disc. Showing the Rod of Asclepius (the Greek symbol for healing - the familiar sword with a snake wrapped around it) and 'MedicAlert' in red; on the back were details of Linda's allergies.
Other people with allergies started to notice Linda's bracelet and interest grew. The Collins family decided to share their ideas with others and set up a charity in 1956.
By 1957 they were organising national mailing campaigns, designing MedicAlert posters to send to hospitals, police and county sheriff's departments as well as presenting at medical conventions in San Francisco.
A 24-hour phone service was launched, providing the MedicAlert wearer's medical history, name, next of kin and address. To support this service, each MedicAlert disc now had a unique number to identify the wearer easily in an emergency.
By 1961, MedicAlert Canada had formed as a non-profit in Toronto, closely followed by New Zealand and then the UK in 1964.
After the Lions Club endorsed MedicAlert in their international magazine, the Collins family took a six-week tour around Europe to promote MedicAlert to interested Lions Clubs.
With much support from Lions Clubs and Denis Gilchrist (a former Chair of The MedicAlert Foundation), as well as a headlining article in the 'Nursing Times', awareness of MedicAlert had increased across the UK and the ROI. Due to its growth, MedicAlert UK become a separate entity from Lions International.
Working with the London Ambulance Service, an emergency phone line was launched, available in over 200 languages and dialects.
By 1971, MedicAlert Australia was born and have since provided protection and peace of mind for hundreds of thousands of Australians.
The MedicAlert Foundation has grown internationally, with nine locations as far spread as South Africa and Malaysia, to locations such as Iceland and Cyprus.
In 2019, we celebrate our 55th anniversary in the UK and Ireland.
MedicAlert UK now supports over 45,000 individuals to keep them safe in an emergency and provide them with peace of mind. Last year alone, our emergency line answered over 700 calls.
Today, MedicAlert UK are working hard to continue to:
Australia - www.medicalert.com.au
Canada - www.medicalert.ca
Cyprus - www.medicalertcyprus.com
Iceland - www.medicalert.is
Malaysia - www.medicalert.org.my
New Zealand - www.medicalert.co.nz
South Africa - www.medicalert.co.za
United States - www.medicalert.org
Zimbabwe - www.medicalert.co.zw
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