More Than 1,000 VIAL of LIFE Emergency Medical Kits Distributed in First Months

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st. mary medical centerCouncilwoman Gerrie Schipske launched the VIAL of LIFE program in Long Beach, which provides a bottle that enables patients to fill out their medical information; to be stored on the top shelf of their refrigerator. The VIAL of LIFE kit also provides a magnet that is placed on the patient’s refrigerator door, along with a sticker for the front door to alert firefighters.

VIAL of LIFE programs are available across the United States to any fire department. The word “Life” in “VIAL of LIFE” stands for:

  • L – Lifesaving
  • I – Information
  • F – For
  • E – Emergencies

When someone receives a VIAL of LIFE, the first thing they must do is fill out the personal information sheet that includes their medical history, along with any medications that they are currently taking.

If an emergency were to occur at a residence with a VIAL of LIFE, first responders will have immediate access to information on the patient to assist with their care. “This enables our paramedics to get the critical information they need as soon as possible. Often the patient, or the family, is unable to provide this information which could result in a delay in gathering vital information,” states Fire Chief Mike Duree with the Long Beach Fire Department.

Although the program was initiated for seniors and people with medical conditions, Long Beach Fire Department uses it in a more widespread way. Chief Duree explains, “This is one more part of our overall emergency preparedness effort. Everyone should have one at their home or in their car. It is a very simple, easy tool that helps communicate critical medical and prescription information to first responders.”

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, a Registered Nurse Practitioner and former EMT, claims that her highest priority is to get all people with medical problems to have a VIAL of LIFE in their home, but that everybody benefits from having one.

Councilwoman Schipske partnered with the Long Beach Firefighters Association, Local 372, and the Long Beach Fire Department to help start the program. Since the program’s beginning, she has brought two local hospitals, St. Mary Medical Center and Long Beach Memorial Medical center, to sponsor and provide funding for the Vial of Life program. Walmart and Seaside Printing also provide financial assistance. Donations can be sent to Long Beach Cares, c/o LB Health and Human Services Department, 2525 Grand Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90815.

With that assistance, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and the Long Beach Firefighters have been able to distribute 1,000 vials in the first 2 months using no taxpayer dollars.

Councilwoman Schipske utilizes teen and adult volunteers to assemble the VIAL of LIFE emergency kits. She is available to speak to community groups about the importance of this program. For more information and locations where to pick up a VIAL of LIFE, go online to

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