Loved one in an accident; I'm waiting @ home wondering. How do I find out what happened?

(This is NOT a “need answer fast” scenario!)

Occasionally, Mr. Horseshoe or I will be a little late coming home from work. No biggie. But occasionally, darker thoughts creep in and I do the whole is-he-dead-in-a-ditch-somewhere? routine until he’s safely back in my arms.

So - and let’s pray/knock on wood/hope no one here, including me, ever needs this information - let’s say he did get in an accident on the way home and gets whisked away in an ambulance. At home, the clock keeps ticking away, I keep glancing out the windows … nothing. At what point to I start doing something, and what would that something be? Start cold-calling the local hospitals? Police? Walk through the neighborhood with a flashlight, calling his name? (“Here, boy!”) Do I have to wait until cops or a hospital call ME instead?
Conversely: say I was the last one leaving my office, tripped and fell in the stairwell, and am lying unconscious. How would he be able to figure out what happened to me?
For the record, I do have an ICE number (In Case of Emergency) plugged into my cell phone. Is there anything else I can do to ensure he gets notified if I plow into a tree or something?

Assuming you and Mr. Horseshoe stay in regular contact with each other, and share deviations from normalcy ahead of time (“Hey, stopping at so and so after work. Shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes …”), I think you need to rely on gut instinct for a period before calling the police.

Better still, you should have this conversation with him today and establish some sort of plan. That way if there is a deviation from the plan/behavior pattern, you each then follow an agreed upon course of action. That might include attempting to contact each other by cell phone for a period of time before you escalate up to the next level, like the police. Leave out cold calling hospitals and ambulance services.

You need to discuss behavior patterns. Do you always use a handrail going up and down the stairs, even at home, for example? Do you walk/drive via shortcuts? You may not be able to plan for every contingency but you can each take a good hard look at each other and actively reduce danger areas and threats. No, I’m not talking dimly lit streets where zombies may be. That, too. Go back to the scenario of climbing/descending stairs. Or carrying in the groceries into the house with both arms overfilled. In both cases, whatever time/effort you think you save is negated if you have an incident. Fine, so take in one bag at a time. So what if it takes you five trips. Any time save by doing it in two trips (instead of five) is instantly negated if you wrench your back carrying too much, fall to the floor and the pain is so intense you can’t call anyone, or answer the phone if it rings, even if that phone is ten feet away. Same for climbing/descending the stairs. Concentrate on the little things when it comes to safety and health and the big things generally will not occur.

In turn, that leaves open an easier plan between the both of you if either of you is late for some reason. Identify current behaviors, reduce/eliminate unnecessary and/or stupid risks. Whatever remains you apply some basic commonsense and set up a communications action plan.

I don’t care what people think about “the man” or being in a “nanny state” or they don’t think they should have to, but I always say…any time you’re not in your house, keep an ID on you. If something happens, it’ll make everything a lot easier.
If you want to argue about who you have to show it to, fine. But if you’re lying in the bottom of a stairwell or get hit my a car on your morning run, it’s helpful if the paramedics know your name and address.

The police aren’t going to be much help immediately. IIRC, the police can’t legally do anything missing-persons wise for an adult in their right mind if they’ve been missing less than 24 hours.

If there is an accident or something where the police are called in, then you WOULD get notified, or at least the ICE number would be (if they found the cellphone… ) Same for hospital intakes. There has to be some sort of next-of-kin contact procedure.

Cold-calling hospitals are a better bet, but with HIPPA now, there’s limitations on what information they can give you about people inside the hospital. Calling and asking about emergency intakes would likely be your best option.

Making some kind of regular ‘contact plan’ with your husband is also good so that you have more ammunition for when you do have to contact police or officials, so you don’t come off as “crazy overreacting person” and they’re more likely to take you seriously.

Emergency responders typically won’t search your person for information on how to contact your relatives. Their job is to save your life and get you to a hospital, and that usually requires their full attention. Typically it will be a public servant (like a police officer) or hospital staff that attempt to notify relatives of an accident, and it will usually take a long time (more than an hour) after the accident occurred, because the staff wants to be able to accurately report to you what the patient’s condition is and what happened, and it takes time to gather that information. Some situations will cause the hospital staff to make notifying relatives a higher priority, such as when the patient is a young child.

The second part of your question will get you wringing your hands with worry. If you suffer an accident with no witnesses, and can’t notify anyone that you need help, you’re screwed unless someone can figure out where you are. That’s the obvious answer, but usually if someone misses you and knows you are between work and home, they can fit the pieces together and get someone to check the stairs in the office building for you. Police usually won’t get involved until a person has been missing for a substantial amount of time, or there is some suspicious aspect of the situation. “My wife was supposed to come home from work an hour ago” probably won’t get the police out looking for her.

Bingo - that’s the phrase I needed. Any MediDopers™ able to generalize how hospitals handle this sort of procedure? (I understand that it’s a lower priority than stabilizing, assessing, etc. Obviously. Just wondering what happens after those are addressed.)

In the 80s I worked in the reception of a hospital ER in suburban Chicago and we would always leave notifcation of accidents to the police.

The EMT or paramedics would first be concerned with getting the person to the hospital, then they worry about ID. The cops take care of this.

If someone couldn’t be ID’d straight off, they were admitted as Jane Doe or John Doe and that woud be subject to change of course. Never once, when I was there was there ever a unidentified person for more than 24 hours.

Sadly enough, I knew of one case where a person I worked with her husband went missing and she was frantic for a day. The cops found him and told her, “he safe and he says he does’t want to hear from you ever again.”

She eventually divorced him, so even if people don’t want to be found, they will at least notify you to say, the person is not missing but left on purpose

In my ER, if you roll in by medic and you’re awake we’ll ask you who to call. If you’re out cold, and there’s a police response (there isn’t always) we’ll look for an ID and let them handle it. If you call and ask is Mr horseshoe there I can tell you everything if he says I can, I can tell you nothing if he (or the police) say I can’t, and, in the abscense of instuctions, I can tell you yes he’s here or no he’s not.

If this were a huge concern, the smartphones these days have GPS built in which you can set up to share your location with family. If you get worried and check and they are moving down the road at 50 mph, you know they’re ok (unless they’re moving at 90mph toward the hospital!). If they’re stationary on a road in the middle of nowhere, or in the corner of their work building that has nothing but stairs and quicksand, you can call them. If there’s no answer, you know their exact location to give to the police if you think there’s reason to involve them.

This doesn’t help notify the other person, but it gives them a way to check if you’re worried.

Thank you, I was wondering this: If I call Hospital X and say “Hey, has a dude named Joe Outlierrn been admitted today?” I didn’t know under the new HIPPA standards if they could even say yes or no.

(I skimmed over Duckster’s initial post, but I figured I’d address that: we DO know each other’s patterns and expected times home. That’s exactly why I wanted to know what to do IF a pattern is disrupted. I know the cops won’t get involved if I say “Hey, he was supposed to be home 90 minutes ago!” but I know an hour and a half is way longer than he’d go incommunicado.)

Sadly, Fubaya, we are not wealthy enough for smartphones or the accompanying data plan at the moment. . .

A related question: How would the police (or whomever) know whom to call if they find you unconscious? Putting aside the priorities of getting you to the hospital and stabilizing you… if your cell phone doesn’t have an ICE, or they can’t find your cell phone… I assume they would phone or knock on the door of the address listed on your driver’s license or other ID, or they’d backtrack from your car’s registration.

What if the license / registration doesn’t find anyone (e.g. you live alone)?

Do some states have a way of attaching emergency contact info to your license, in their computers? I could swear I’ve heard of this sort of thing, but my state doesn’t appear to have that feature.

Bad news travels fast.

About a month ago, I got a call at 2AM from an EMT telling me that my daughter had been in a car accident. My daughter was not responsive at the scene. The EMT got my number from her cell phone and called me.


I had an EMT advise me once to program into my phone ICE: “In Case of Emergency” that they will look for to notify…

That way they are not having to figure out who a family member might be if you have a different last name.

Yes, I do have an ICE number. Will bug The Other Shoe tonight after work if he has one - I think I [del]nagged[/del] gently asked him to put one (me) into his phone as well.

How long does it take till someone tries the ICE number? Not till they’re admitted to the hospital (if need be) right? Not actually **at **the accident scene?

anson - hope youre daughter’s OK. :frowning:

Well, I can tell you this true story, from more than 25 years ago:

My grandmother, who was living with our family, went out one afternoon to do some grocery shopping. When she didn’t come home, and it was later than she should have, my mother started to worry. When it got even later, my mother started to be frantic.

Eventually, she started calling local hospitals. One of them finally said, “Oh, Mrs. <Grandma>? She passed away a little while ago.”

You can imagine the shock.

As it turns out, my grandmother had been hit by a car while walking across a street in a crosswalk.

As far as this thread is concerned, the point is that NOBODY tried to contact my grandma’s family.

ETA: Of course, this was from before the time of cell phones, and I don’t know what kind of ID my grandma had, although the hospital did know her name.

Well I stopped by a friends house a couple of months ago to see how he was doing and his truck was there but no answer at his door and he wasn’t answering his phone. Since he had terminal cancer I feared the worst and called the local hospital. They told me that he had been admitted a couple of days prior for dehydration, but that he was ok. Next morning I got a call from his brother (he saw my number on his brothers phone) and found out that he had died just a couple of hours before. :frowning: You think that they could have said something since his family was already there and knew.

She’s at home recuperating, and as soon as she’s better I’m gonna kill her. :smiley:

Thanks for asking.

One thing to consider: a lot of people have their cellphones set up so that they require a password to be entered to use the phone, including accessing the contacts list. In this case, the ICE would be of no use.