The red-colored staff-and-serpent symbol of Medic Alert is one of the most recognizable in the world, says Kenneth W. Harms, president of the 32-year-old non-profit foundation.

Harms, who is in Utah this week to address local Medic Alert volunteers, noted that 1.7 million members in the United States 7,000 in Utah and an additional 1 million throughout the rest of the world already wear Medic Alert's familiar bracelets and neck chains."I've said this before and it's never been challenged: Every family in the United States has a member or relative that needs Medic Alert," he said.

Unlike emblems that can be purchased over the counter in a drugstore, Harms said, Medic Alert offers its membership the resources of a worldwide organization, including 24-hour computer data base.

He said bracelets and neck chains are available for people who fall into one of five medical categories:

- Have allergies to specific drugs.

- Take special drugs.

- Wear special medical devices.

- Have ongoing medical conditions.

- Desire special medical care, such as organ donors.

Beginning in June, Harm said, Medic Alert will expand its program by providing a new service for the millions of persons with implanted medical devices, like pacemakers, mechanical heart valves and intraoc-ular lenses.

About 2,000 such implants require recalls each year 15 or so life-critical. "Like any mechanical device, these things sometimes fail," Harms said.

When they do, he said, the goal of Medic Alert's national registry program is to see that notification of these failures is relayed to the physicians of implant patients as soon as possible for action.

Persons desiring further information can write: Medic Alert, Turlock, Calif. 95381. Or they can call the local Salt Lake Valley chapter at 261-2085.