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What is a medical alert bracelet and how does it work?

17th Apr 2023

Medical ID bracelets are a form of medical alert ID and are a simple, quick and effective way to communicate vital information.

In an emergency, paramedics, EMTs and other first responders will undertake a primary survey of the patient including checking for medical alert bracelets or chains at the major pulse points. This is part of paramedics’ training.

The pulse points most commonly used in an emergency are:

  • Carotid artery: this is the strongest pulse as it is a large artery and closer to the heart than other pulse points.
  • Radial artery: more commonly used for conscious patients as it’s considered to be less invasive than putting a hand to the patient’s neck.

  • That's why the most useful medical ID alerts are worn at the wrist or neck.

    Note that there is no expectation for first responders to check pockets, wallets, phones or bags for medical alert cards, medication or other information unless this is specifically referenced on a medical ID bracelet or medical ID necklace. For example, “see medical card” or “EpiPen”.

    In an emergency, the first responder’s priority is to stabilise the patient. All first responders, EMTs and medical professionals undertake training, but even the most diligent will not be aware of every illness, condition or syndrome. Any help you can provide in the form of potentially life-saving information on a medical ID bracelet or necklace makes their job easier and improves your safety.

    It’s also important that medical ID bracelets are easily recognisable as medical IDs. All of our medical ID bracelets, wristbands and necklaces feature the internationally recognised snake and staff, also known as the staff of Asclepius within the six-pointed star of life. Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion and mythology, while the star of life was adopted by the World Medical Association "as the universal emergency medical information symbol" in 1964.

    Medical Alert Graphic - Etsy UK

    These symbols on a medical ID bracelet indicate that there is information first responders and medical professionals need to be made aware of.

    Your medical ID bracelet can be as obvious or subtle as you want – from brightly coloured silicone bands with “Medical Alert” and your condition to a traditional chain bracelet with engraved information and that all important symbol. Many of our medical ID bracelets and wristbands are available in a variety of sizes or adjustable – particularly useful for our younger customers.

    Your medical ID bracelet should focus on any condition, medication or past or current treatment (for example, a heart transplant or immunotherapy treatment) that a medical professional needs to be aware of because:

    • It could have caused or contributed to the emergency for example, an adrenal crisis;
    • It needs to be taken into account when determining the best treatment for example, a blood disorder or a severe latex allergy; or
    • It could be affecting your ability to communicate or your behaviour, for example Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

    We use this simple mnemonic to remind us why a medical ID is important:


    Easily visible and easily readable


    Simple alert for emergencies


    Heads up guidance system

    So treat yourself to a HUG and stay safe.