One cool little lifesaver

December 8, 2014

Capsule of Life chills in fridge until needed by EMS

Story by Kerri Robins; photo by Lisa Barrett

Talk about a cool idea!

Therese Frederick, former administrative co-ordinator for the EMS Foundation, holds up a sheet of paper to be completed with a person’s medical information. It is then rolled up, placed in a Capsule of Life and stored in the person’s refrigerator where emergency personnel can easily find it in the event of an emergency.

The Capsule of Life is a plasticized container to holds papers that detail a patient’s medical condition and history, current medications, allergies, other special conditions and emergency contacts. It’s kept in the refrigerator where it can be easily found by emergency personnel in the event of an emergency.

“When loved ones aren’t able to speak, the capsule of life is their ‘voice’ to paramedics,” says Don Sharpe, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Alberta Health Services.

Provided by the EMS Foundation, the Capsule of Life could prove a lifesaver for people living with medical conditions, seniors, or children in the care of a babysitter.

“It’s an accessible tool in emergency situations when a patient has become incapacitated in some way and can’t provide vital personal health information,” says Lisa Barrett, Executive Director for the EMS Foundation.

“The capsules hold patient history that can be helpful to emergency medical responders, especially for higher-risk patients like people suffering from diabetes, heart disease or seizures — it just takes the guesswork out.”

A bright orange sticker, displayed on the fridge door, alerts EMS that a capsule can be found inside. The fridge was chosen as a location because all houses have one, so it’s easy for emergency personnel to find the capsule. As well, a fridge stands a greater chance of remaining intact in the event of a flood or fire.

As part of the EMS Foundation’s vision to enhance health and safety in communities, The Capsule of Life program has seen capsules freely distributed throughout Calgary and area Co-op pharmacies since 2004. But now the program is expanding throughout the province; 11,000 more capsules were distributed in 2013.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a capsule of life, please contact For more information, visit