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[ISN] Choosing the Right Emergency Contacts


By Peter Shankman
September 10th, 2009

As a skydiver, I'm asked to put down an emergency contact every time I 
visit a new dropzone. Growing up, chances are, we choose our parents. 
I've learned since that they're not the best for that "bad call." Not to 
diss them in any way, but if the worst were ever to happen, I'd rather 
they find out from someone they know, someone who cares about them, who 
can take care of them and not someone they've never spoken to before in 
their life. My emergency contact is either my assistant Meagan, or my 
attorney, both of whom are friends with my parents.

This was written by my friend Eric, a skydiver with thousands and 
thousands of jumps, for a website called Dropzone.com. While it's meant 
for skydivers, it's a worthy read/forward, for anyone who has to fill 
this information out - and quite frankly, that's all of us. (Think about 
it - new job, running a race, even taking a flight.) Read it and pass it 

    Choosing Emergency Contacts

    One of the things that all most every Dropzone or Boogie waiver has 
    is a space to list an Emergency contact. Most jumpers just fill this 
    information in with the first relative or friends name that pops 
    into their head as they fill out the waiver, but jumpers should fill   
    this section out after carefully selecting a contact. Jumpers should 
    put as much thought into this decision as they do into what type of 
    jumpsuit they are going to buy or what their next boogie is going to be.

    There are criteria that make people better emergency contacts then 
    others and jumpers should keep this in mind as they make their 
    selection. Potential emergency contacts should meet the following 
    criteria at a minimum:

    1) Potential emergency contacts need to be aware of any medical 
       issues or conflicts that you might have. If someone is allergic 
       to something and forgets to put it on their waiver the emergency 
       contact might just be the last line of defense there is to 
       prevent the emergency responders from giving them a potentially 
       dangerous drug or drug combinations.

    2) Emergency contacts should have phone numbers to your immediate 
       family members rapidly available so they may inform your loved 
       ones about any potential incidents that might have happened. Poor 
       choices for emergency contacts include people that have never met 
       you or your family before you visit the DZ. At a minimum your 
       emergency contact should have the phone number to contact the 
       person that you would want to be notified of your injury or death 

    3) Another trait that makes a good emergency contact is choosing 
       someone that is not at the airport the same time you are. In the 
       case of something like a plane crash or canopy entanglement you 
       might be involved in the incident with potential emergency 
       contacts. By choosing someone that is not involved in skydiving 
       or at the airport at all you maximize the availability of 
       contacts that DZ personal might be able to reach in the case of 
       an emergency on the dropzone.

    4) Contacts should be someone that will be able to initially handle 
       receiving potentially devastating news about you. Choosing 
       someone that is known to be extremely emotional over the phone 
       might be a poor choice as a contact if the Dropzone or medical 
       teams need to ask questions of the emergency contact. Choose 
       someone that will be able to calmly answer any potential 
       questions after being informed that you are injured or worse.

    5) Having multiple methods of contacting emergency contacts makes
       the task of reaching the emergency contact a lot easier for the 
       dropzone personal. Emergency contacts should have at least one 
       phone number and if possible multiple phones. List every phone 
       number in the order that they should be called. Listing mobile 
       numbers, home numbers and work numbers should all be done at a 
       minimum to insure the maximum possibility of reaching someone in 
       a true emergency.

    Other things that should be used as criteria in potential emergency 
    contacts include knowing who might be on vacation and out of reach 
    at the time of certain boogies, knowing which contacts will be 
    available to rapidly travel to deal with incidents if they happen, 
    and in the case of international jumpers knowing the time difference 
    and how that is going to affect the ability to contact your 
    potential contact.

    Using these criteria to choose an emergency contact will increase 
    the probability that the dropzone personal will be able to reach 
    and inform people of emergencies involving you, plus it will reduce 
    the anxiety factor on the dropzone staff side in contacting people 
    if they know they will not have to end up calling 10 people to reach 
    someone that has needed answers about you. 

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