The emergency kit

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on October 28, 2019 # Travel, Relationships

I remember when we got my son’s first adaptive wheelchair van. We were so excited for Zack to be able to just roll in, instead of lifting him into my truck. I had done so many lifts over the course of three years, I was worried about my back, and when I was by myself, I’d have to recruit total strangers to help me when he had his motorized chair. On a side note, almost always the people were gracious, happy to help and they got the satisfaction of doing a good deed, but I don't miss standing around literally waiting for someone to walk by. I used to joke with Zack and say, “hmmm who’s the lucky winner”. When driving in my truck there were so many times that Zack would just sit in the truck while I ran into the store. I felt bad not getting him out more, but it was physically hard and time-consuming. This van with a ramp meant Zack could go into a store and get his own candy! Anyway, this is not a blog about the van but the emergency kit I put in the very back.

One day after being stranded with a dead battery I realized that we better have some supplies for Zack. In this case, we started out stalled in the shade, but it took some time to get help and by then Zack ended up in the sun. At that point, it only took a short while for him to start to overheat. This was a good lesson on being prepared. Later that night I put together an emergency bag and stored it in the very back trunk area. This is what I packed...

  • Umbrella (for rain or shade)
  • Squirt bottle with water (cool him down)
  • Wipes
  • Small towel
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Change of clothes, Hat
  • Leg bag, Night bag, Condom catheters
  • Bowel program supplies (gloves, suppositories)
  • I threw in some toiletries (travel-size toothbrush, paste, deodorant)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry snacks (granola bar, nut pack, etc.)
  • Drinking water
  • Dog Food (for his service dog Sedona)

This all fits in a grocery size bag that didn't take up too much room. We would use a spare condom catheter or wipes here and there. I would replace the snacks and water. We used up the dog food once or twice. We used the umbrella for rain and shade. I was always glad when I needed something and it was there. It gave me peace of mind, so I kept it in there. We eventually were able to upgrade to a nicer van. I transferred the emergency bag to the new van, replacing a few old items for less sun -damaged ones. I hesitated again thinking maybe I should downsize but decided to leave it in there. So, in the very back, it stayed and sat.

Until the other day...Zack and his fiancé Bree were up near LA at an appointment. It had taken them two 2 hours to get there that morning and was going to probably take longer to get back home. They were told they needed to come back in the morning as well. Making that 6 plus hours of driving. They were told that some clients rent a hotel room for the night to minimize the drive time. They were not prepared or packed, so it was not an option in their minds. Dreading the long drive back home in traffic, one of them remembered the emergency bag! Since this had all the necessities. You guessed it, they were able to stay overnight! And be spontaneous which is not easy most of the time being a quadriplegic.

This one time made that bag being in there for years, worth it!

From contributing writer Amber Collie.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.