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Apr 20, 2009

Gregory L. Adams BS, NREMT-P

Greg Adams is currently the Associate Director, Emergency Medical Education at MedicAlert Foundation.  He is responsible for training first responders , EMT’s, paramedics, fire fighters, police, nurses and physicians - across the US on MedicAlert’s services and capabilities, such as its 24 hour emergency call center that specializes in providing vital information to help save patients lives.  The training helps emergency responders improve and expedite treatment for MedicAlert members.

Greg started his EMS career as a volunteer firefighter in 1980 then joined the US Army (as a medic) in 1981. He has held various training and leadership positions in the Army including 3 years as the Program Director for Combat Lifesaver Course for the 1st of the 184th Infantry Battalion where he trained over 300 infantry soldiers life-saving skills used in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During Greg’s 25 years working on an ambulance, he has been a Field Training Officer and Public Relations Officer.  He has written training materials for nurses on the subject of interactions with EMS in long term care facilities and he has written articles for a national EMS magazine emphasizing the importance of emergency medical identification.

As a certified instructor for CPR, First Aid, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Greg currently volunteers his time training basic level US Air Force EMTs.

Greg has a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and has held his National Registry Paramedic Certification since 1998.  He is a member of the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Educators as well as the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

The Teenager Who Launched an International Foundation: The MedicAlert Story

Rarely can children and teenagers avoid some kind of injury, cuts or bruises during the carefree days of summer vacation. In the summer of 1953 in Turlock, Calif., teenager Linda Collins was no exception. With her parents away on vacation, Linda managed to cut her finger badly enough to require a trip to the local hospital.

Linda’s family members were no strangers in the local medical community. In fact, they were a staple. Linda’s father, Dr. Marion Collins, was a physician and surgeon in the town. To get treatment for her injury, Linda was taken to Turlock’s Lillian Collins Hospital, an institution founded by her grandfather. There, she was treated by her uncle, Dr. James Collins.

Even for this knowledgeable medical family, what should have been a routine procedure to treat Linda’s cut turned into a medical nightmare. Following standard protocol, Linda’s uncle performed a skin test before injecting Linda with a full dose of tetanus antitoxin which contained horse serum. Within moments, Linda went into anaphylactic shock – a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction.

The incident nearly killed her. Linda spent several days in an oxygen tent fighting for her life. Bolstered by the strength of her youth she was able to survive the trauma. Linda could return to a normal life, but she and her parents both felt there was a lesson to be learned.

“My parents realized that if one tiny drop of the antitoxin had produced that reaction I’d probably be killed by a full dose,” she recalled. “Thereafter, when I went away from home for a weekend or to a neighboring town for school events, they’d attach a note to my coat or make me a paper bracelet describing my allergies.”

Linda gained a reputation around Turlock for her medical tagging. Everyone in the small town had heard her story. But, it wasn’t until Linda was accepted to Stanford that she and her parents decided to create a more permanent indicator of her medical allergy.

Refusing to be tattooed or to wear a dog tag, as her father suggested, Linda came up with the concept of a silver bracelet with “Allergic to Tetanus Antitoxin” engraved on the back. Dr. Collins added “MedicAlert” and the symbol of the medical profession to the front. The design was sent to a local San Francisco jeweler. Days later the first MedicAlert bracelet was created.

Walking around campus, Linda was frequently asked about the unique piece of jewelry on her wrist. Many people asked how they could get one for themselves or a loved one. She told her parents of the interest, and together they decided that their concept needed to be shared.

Dr. Collins launched a campaign to turn his daughter’s jewelry concept into a national phenomenon with a strictly philanthropic model in mind. “We are not here to make money. We are here to save lives,” he frequently stated.

In 1956, Dr. Collins established the MedicAlert Foundation International, a nonprofit organization. In the more than 50 years since its creation, the foundation has grown from a family-run organization, headquartered in the Collins family living room, to a global entity with offices in ten countries and 4 million members worldwide.

Over the years, the foundation has protected the lives of millions of people all because of one teenager’s accident, allergic reaction and desire to help others like herself in times of need.

MedicAlert Foundation International 2323 Colorado Avenue Turlock, CA 95382 888-633-4298