Staying in touch during emergencies

It's the worst of all scenarios: Suddenly your family is faced with a serious illness/injury, and you are frantically rushing to the hospital to be present for doctors' consultations, surgeries, therapy, visiting hours, and reassuring the loved one who is suffering.

Meanwhile, you are trying to put everything into perspective so you can still fit in your job, family and life in general around this new challenge.

You feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unable to do much more than get through each day, and even that seems impossible at times. How wonderful if you had a support network and could reach out to others, with them reaching back. It would be equally great if you could make others aware that your loved one is not well and could use some cheering up - or some prayers.

The time, and technology, has come when you can employ online methods and supplement them with updates. Hospitals now offer this through opportunities, such as CarePages, where families have an opportunity to write or journal about the crisis.

Half the battle of surviving a crisis is having to repeat the same sad news over and over for concerned family and friends. Then comes the challenge of trying to remember who you told what to as you plod through the daily haze of fear, worry and pain. You're seeking a way to put your head, and actions, in order - to make sense of things. Some people write lists, some make dozens of calls, and some write. But this is one way to incorporate all three of those means into a simple action. It's also how people can reach every interested party with Internet access. It ultimately offers you the way to make one short effort, at subsequent intervals, to update it all.

Most importantly, it connects you with those who have the comfort and concern to support and empower you.

Visit or a comparable site and set up a link through their main website under the name of your injured or ill family member.

This serves as the primary point for caregivers or immediate family members to enter daily (or intermittent) updates so family friends and every other interested party can know the condition of the patient. It will allow information as to how or when to get in touch with the scurrying next of kin or indicate when additional help is needed.

That might mean when blood donations or other supplies are being called for, or anything from babysitting to hospital transport or other equipment needs to be searched for. As one large message board, the service it can provide is invaluable. Also, with cell phones not in use in many medical facilities, this is one means by which contact with you can be assured.

Interested friends/family merely visit the main site, register their email info, then receive free email updates of the events journaled by a family member/spokesperson. That keeps them on top of the very latest news.

These are free services and require simple steps to set up. But, the results of such a virtual meeting place for you and those who care about the ill or injured family member are valuable to the people faced with pressure and decisions on behalf of the hospital patient.

Watch for a site that doesn't require daily submissions and also has a message board where others can leave greetings, messages and other important information.

You can add photos, receive supportive feedback for both you and the patient and reach out to interested strangers, too. This is especially important if the hospitalization has occurred due to an auto crash, natural disaster or other trigger, culminating in media interest in the outcome. You can reach out, with a minimum of interruptions, handle your responsibilities and still benefit by the kindness of others.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't reveal specifics regarding your comings and goings, so the hours your home is empty is not rife for a potential break-in. This also helps to protect any other at-home residents, such as small children or vulnerable elders.

  • Don't use the site to potentially indict others. In the event of a drunk driving incident, attempted murder, or other catastrophic occurrence, there will be pending legalities and you don't want to complicate matters later by what you might say in the heat of the moment.

  • Do use good taste, however detailed your updates may be. You don't need to give blow-by-blow specifics of gory surgeries or crashes to get the point across of serious injuries.