More than 100 persons who may have bought worthless medical identification cards from a man impersonating a fire department official will receive usable cards - at no cost.
Medic Alert Foundation announced Monday it's providing its comprehensive ID service free to the defrauded individuals by waiving its $30 lifetime membership fee.The service includes an annually updated wallet card, an individually engraved bracelet and a computerized database that lists detailed medical information about Medic Alert members. It can be accessed through a hotline by emergency and medical personnel 24 hours a day via a toll-free number listed on the medical identification emblem and wallet card.
"Medic Alert's service is available only through the non-profit foundation, never door to door," said Ron Bouck, volunteer chairman of the Foundation's Rocky Mountain Public Information Office in Salt Lake.
Bouck said Medic Alert's ID service is critical for people with hidden medical conditions that emergency workers need to know about in an emergency. These include diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, allergies to medicines, current medications and implanted medical devices.
"Research shows that cards simply don't work very well," said Ken Harms, the foundation's president. "Bracelets and our professional education program do work."
Medic Alert's offer will benefit nearly 150 people - many of them elderly and on fixed incomes - who claim they bought Med-Alert Inc. cards from Edgar M. Brandenburg, a West Valley man. In November Brandenburg pleaded no contest to impersonating a public servant and soliciting without a business license, both Class B misdemeanors. He was given two 180-day suspended jail sentences, fined $1,250 and placed on probation for one year by 3rd Circuit Judge Tyrone E. Medley.
Brandenberg had been selling drivers license-size medical alert cards - at $18 to $20 a card - containing personal medical information on microfiche. West Valley fire officials said the cards were virtually useless because area emergency personnel do not have the equipment needed to magnify and read the information.
"Though the Med-Alert card appears to be of little practical value to Utahns in emergency situations, the Medic Alert system continues to be of great value," Bouck said.
Defrauded individuals may receive no-cost membership applications by calling the foundation at 363-0682. Bouck said the foundation has funds to cover the first 100 defrauded individuals.
The Medic Alert Foundation International is a non-profit organization based in Turlock, Calif., and has 2 million members in the United States.