The Origin of the Medical Emergency Symbol

medical emergency symbol, star of lifeThe snake with the staff is often referred to as a medical emergency alert symbol which represents health and healing. The snake and staff themselves have special meanings that you may have wondered about, especially seeing as it is often found displayed on hospitals, medical centres, ambulances, watches, phones and, of course, medibands, to game but a few applications. If you're curious about how the medical emergency alert symbol came about and what it means, read on.

There are two variations to the medical alert symbol - the staff of Asclepius and the Caduceus symbol. Both actually have VERY different meanings!

The Staff of Asclepius

medical emergency symbol, star of life, asclepiusThe Rod of Asclepius takes its name from the Greek god Asclepius. It has a single snake wrapped around the staff. It's important to note that Asclepius was Apollo's son and a Greek doctor, widely known for his healing powers. The Ancient Greeks regarded him as the god of medicine and healing. There are stories of Asclepius bringing the dead back to life.  

The Caduceus Symbol

medical emergency symbol, star of life, caduceus symbolThe second "medical alert" symbol is Caduceus. Caduceus has two snakes wrapped around a staff with wings on the top of the staff. The wings are a tribute to the god Hermes, and it references his speed. He's a messenger in Greek myth, and he has winged shoes. The modern depiction of the caduceus as the symbol of commerce. It is often mistakenly used as a medical alert device. People believe the staff found on both versions of the medical alert symbol comes from the Old Testament Book of Numbers, and the story of Moses. God chose Moses to lead the Jewish people to the promised land. In this section of the Old Testament, God speaks to Moses and tells him to get a staff and a snake. God then uses these items to heal people through Moses.  A bite from a snake could be a medical emergency if the snake has venom. This is widely believed to be why snakes play a central role in the design. Nevertheless, the symbol is easy to recognise, no matter which one is on your medical ID bracelet. 

The Star Of Life

star of life medical emergencyThe six-pointed star is the Star of Life and it has been in circulation since 1967. The Star of Life has traditionally been used as a means of identification for medical personnel, equipment, and vehicles, with many ambulance services world-wide using the symbol to mark their vehicles. Ambulance crews often wear the design as part of their uniform. It appears on various medical textbooks as well as on a wide range of merchandise aimed at the medic market. Each of the six points of the star of life has a meaning, which can be viewed below:


1. Detection

The first rescuers, otherwise known as first responders, on the scene, usually untrained civilians or those involved in the incident, observe the scene, understand the problem, identify the dangers to themselves and others, and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety on the scene (environmental, electricity, chemicals, radiation, etc.). It is this first moment in time when a medical emergency alert ID can save precious time and result in better prognosis and outcomes for the patient

2. Reporting

The call for professional help is made and dispatch is connected with the victims, providing emergency medical dispatch. It is important to note that different countries use a variety of call codes and to be aware of what code should be used in the country you reside in. For example, 911 for the USA, 000 for Australia etc.

3. Response

The first rescuers provide first aid and immediate care to the extent of their capabilities.

4. On-Scene Care

The EMS personnel arrive and provide immediate care to the extent of their capabilities on-scene.

5. Care in Transit 

The EMS personnel proceed to transfer the patient to a hospital via an ambulance or helicopter for specialised care. Medical care is then provided during the transportation by EMS.

6. Transfer to Definitive Care 

Appropriate specialised care is provided at the hospital. The Star of Life represents emergency medical services

Why the Medical Alert Symbol is Important 

The medical alert symbol is one of the most widely recognised symbols in the world. It has a long history of use, and it's easy to add to your medical ID bracelet. The symbol also provides people with peace of mind with first responders recognising it at a glance in an emergency even if you aren't able to tell them so. 

It's important to note that paramedics are trained to look for this symbol before they commence treating a person. It gives them vital clues to the person's medical history or condition and is a good way to communicate allergies, life-saving medications and emergency contacts. 

Medical Emergency ID Bracelets featuring the Star of Life

medical emergency star of life medibandMediband has several different medical ID bracelets available, from those made from silicone, to active designs, stainless steel or gold bracelets. Each bracelet is designed to be durable and are non-toxic & hypo-allergenic, making them safe to wear. You can purchase pre-made bracelets with conditions like asthma or diabetes already printed. If you don't see your specific condition, Mediband can customise your bracelet to suit you. Considering that the silicone bracelets come with bold colour choices they're easy to spot. This is important in the event of a medical emergency. The situation can be chaotic, and time is important. The paramedics have to give you fast medical attention in the event of an emergency. Mediband makes this possible. 

If you need a more stylish medical ID bracelet, we have gold and stainless steel options. They're elegant, durable and come in a choice of styles. All of our bands are good options for both adults or children to wear. 

Contact Mediband Today For Your Medical Alert ID!

Do you need a medical alert ID to record your medical details for use in emergencies? You can now obtain your custom medical ID from Mediband! We have an exclusive stock of medical ID bracelets available. You can customise it to suit your needs. If you don't see your medical condition listed on our site, we can help. We invite you to contact us today. We're happy to customise a bracelet to suit your needs quickly and efficiently.

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