Fort Mill resident Ann Nelson hopes to bridge the generation gap while potentially save lives.
Nelson, who is participating in the Mrs. South Carolina America Pageant on Nov. 21 in Mooresville, N.C., is using the Fort Mill Police Department’s Vial of Life program, which distributes Vial of Life kits throughout the community, as her platform.
The kits include a form that covers pertinent medical information for first responders. The forms are placed in plastic bags with a red medical decal on the outside and hung on the refrigerator. Another decal is placed on the door to notify personnel.
Lt. Ray Dixon of the Fort Mill Police Department, who brought the program to Fort Mill five years ago, said more than 3,000 kits have been given out in the community. It has saved at least one life, Dixon said.
While on a call, Dixon and the other responders saw the through a window a resident on the floor. After entering the residence, they found her unconscious but breathing. Though she was unable to communicate, the Vial of Life kit provided the necessary information for the officers to properly seek treatment.
“This form will speak for them, and it did for her that day,” Dixon said.
Nelson compared the kits to life insurance.
“You hope you never need it, but it is there if you do,” she said.
Nelson brought the Vial of Life project to Nation Ford High School’s Beta Club as one of its community outreach initiatives in early October. She said the kits are a way for students to interact with older residents.
“It’s an icebreaker between the different generations,” Nelson said. “There are tons of people out there who are lonely and isolated. To those people, that someone thought of them is a big deal.”
Nation Ford has more than 160 Beta Club participants, all of whom must maintain a 3.8 grade-point average and are required to earn 100 service points through community service, said Beta Club Adviser Hailey Hughes.
“It’s amazing what these kids are willing to do,” she said. “A lot of them are really going out and being a part of their community.”
Hughes said a few students have already shown interest in the Vial of Life program. The students earn 10 points for each kit they hand out and must take a photo with the receiving resident.
“I think it’s a great way to reach out,” she said.
The Vial of Life program helps all involved, ensuring life-saving information is on hand when responders need it and allowing for connections between residents, Nelson said. She said the older generation benefits not just from the kits, but from the friendships formed with the students and volunteers who hand them out.
“People are feeling more isolated now than ever,” Nelson said. “Community service doesn’t have to be for the masses. One on one communication can be very powerful.”
Nelson said her Vial of Life promotion is a grassroots effort to spread the kits throughout the area. She will present the program at the Mrs. South Carolina America pageant and hopes it continues to help create bonds between generations.
“The possibilities are endless,” she said.