File of Life

What is the File of Life?

 The FILE OF LIFE originated over twenty years ago in a slightly different form as the Vial of Life, which was to be kept inside the refrigerator. But the small vial, with a piece of paper containing medical information inside of it, kept getting lost. In addition, when moisture accumulated in the vial, the information became unreadable. “The emergency personnel don’t have time to clean out the refrigerator to find the vial,” said Ishler, who helped organize the program.

Words of Faith for File of Life

The FILE OF LIFE provides a substantial preventive step that a person can take. Its visibility and readability ensure that emergency personnel can access it quickly when responding to a call.

EMT’s have assured us that the information contained in the FILE OF LIFE would not only be helpful, but potentially lifesaving. Listing the person(s) to contact when an emergency occurs is of particular value to police officers.

Imagine this scenario. An elderly woman has fallen and can’t get up, but she manages to push her emergency alert button before passing out. What happens to the woman once the EMTs arrive if they cannot quickly figure out what her medical history is?

If the EMTs cannot determine how to best treat her, the emergency button may not have helped much. Suppose, however, the medics had immediate access to her medical history — a FILE OF LIFE right there on her refrigerator door.

Across the nation, advocates and organizations for the elderly, teaming up with police, fire officials, emergency rescue units, life and health insurance businesses and local government personnel are supporting this simple idea.

The FILE OF LIFE card enables medics to obtain a quick medical history when the patient is unable to offer one. “The card eliminates the risk of the patient, who, in a frightened state, may forget to mention something important.” said Marilyn G. Ishler, Director of the South Hadley, Massachusetts Council of Aging.

The card, which is kept in a red plastic pocket labeled FILE OF LIFE, lists the patient’s name, emergency medical contacts, insurance policy and social security numbers, health problems, medications, dosages, allergies, recent surgeries, religion, doctor’s name and a health care proxy. The entire pocket is held, with a magnet, to the outside of the refrigerator. ​



1. Fill out the medical card and be sure the information is accurate and legible. If necessary have someone assist you.
2. Use pencil where you fill in the medications and where you date the card to allow future updates.
3. When completed, place the file on the outside face of your refrigerator.
4. CALL 903-237-1119 to register your family. If you leave a voice mail please be sure to speak slowly and clearly so all information can be obtained correctly. Give your name, address and telephone number.

The 9-1-1 system will record that your household has a FILE OF LIFE which allows emergency personnel to be prepared upon arrival at your home. 

5.  Keep all medical data up to date.
6. Whenever there is a change in medications or dosage be sure to change it on your card and redate the card.
7. Take the file with you when you visit your doctor. ​

To receive a FILE OF LIFE card, come to Fire Administration at 100 E. Cotton or call 903-237-1119.