Sometimes it's the smallest things that provide the greatest peace of mind.
I should know.
First a little background. In the fall of 2009, Dr. Joseph Mirenda, a physician and avid cyclist, left Wintergreen Resort on a 60-mile ride to surprise his son Nic, then a freshman at James Madison University.
Joe was less than five miles from Harrisonburg (where I live) when he was hit by a car and killed. Emergency and hospital personnel were unable to find any identification and it took almost three days to determine who he was.
That week I bought a Road ID.
A Road ID is a personal identification tag for fitness and outdoor enthusiasts, like a cross between a military dog tag and a medical alert.
I started wearing my Ankle ID every time I rode. In time I felt naked if I forgot it; the last thing I wanted was to be injured or unconscious, miles from home, with no way for anyone to identify me or contact my wife.
A couple years later, in the middle of my own 60-mile ride, my chest started to hurt. Then both my arms hurt. Then both my hands. (My hands hurt the worst; they felt like they were exploding.)
Finally I quit rationalizing and realized something was seriously wrong. I tried to call my wife but there was no cell service.
As I dropped my phone I thought, "If I pass out -- or something worse happens -- how will she know where I am?"
I slumped to the ground, leaned back against the guardrail, hung my head... and saw my Road ID strapped around my ankle. Instantly I thought, "Oh good. No matter what happens, someone will call her." I know it sounds odd, but it came as a huge relief to know that was one thing I didn't have to worry about.
Later I learned two important things. One, if you walk in a hospital and say "chest pains," you'll instantly bypass the black hole of the emergency room and find yourself lying in a bed surrounded by medical professionals. Two, I had a complete block of my left anterior descending artery, which a (less than emotionally intelligent) nurse told me they call the "widow maker" heart attack.
That's far from my only health issue -- I'm a smorgasbord of medical issues -- but it's enough to illustrate the point: You can never know when. You can never know where.
But you can be prepared - and you can gain some degree of confidence from knowing that you are prepared.
Now, whether I'm on a bike or not, I always wear the Interactive Version of a Road ID. (Mine is a Wrist ID Slim 2.)
It's a wristband that allows emergency personnel to call or go online to access comprehensive medical and personal information about me: contact details, prior conditions, allergies, physicians, current medications... all the information needed to treat me without delay or uncertainty.
Do I think I'll ever need it? Nah. I'm the absolute king of denial. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, I'm always convinced nothing bad will ever happen to me.
Yet I still wear my Road ID. It like that it makes my wife feel better: No matter where I am she knows she'll be contacted if something happens... and more importantly, she knows emergency personnel have immediate access to the all information they need to treat me.
And, denial aside, it does make me feel better. I like knowing that no matter where I travel, if something major does happen I'll get faster and more specific treatment.
And I love knowing my family will never be forced to sit and wonder and worry for hours or even days.
And it's cool that the company was founded by a couple of entrepreneurs who decided they could make a difference while building a company they love. (Sound familiar?
My Road ID might save my life someday. By extension, Edward and Mike might save my life someday. (And if so, I wouldn't be the first.)
Hopefully not... but you never know.