A Family Portrait
The MedicAlert Foundation® story began in the summer of 1953, in the farming community of Turlock, California. While her parents were away on vacation, Linda Collins, the 14-year-old daughter of Dr. Marion Collins, a physician and surgeon, cut her finger badly enough to require a trip to the local hospital.
Following standard protocol, Linda’s uncle performed a skin test before injecting Linda with a full dose of tetanus antitoxin, which contained horse serum. Within moments, Linda went into anaphylactic shock – a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction. The incident nearly killed her.
“My parents realized that if one tiny drop of the antitoxin had produced that reaction I’d probably be killed by a full dose,” she recalled. “Thereafter, when I went away from home for a weekend or to a neighboring town for school events, they’d attach a note to my coat or have me wear a paper bracelet describing my allergies.”
Linda came up with the concept of a silver bracelet with “Allergic to Tetanus Antitoxin” engraved on the back. Dr. Collins added “MEDIC ALERT" and the symbol of the medical profession to the front. The design was sent to a local San Francisco jeweler who created the first MedicAlert® bracelet.
Our Humble Beginnings
After several years of consulting with other professionals, Dr. Collins established MedicAlert Foundation International, a nonprofit, tax-exempt, and charitable organization. Dr. Collins said more than once, “We are not here to make money. We are here to save lives.” He and his family demonstrated that commitment. They invested $30,000 of their own money in the first two years, while contributing countless hours of volunteer time. The “mail room” for the organization in the early years was the family living room.
Spreading Our Mission
National visibility continued to surge during this time as television stations nationwide aired MedicAlert public service announcements. In 1996, Chrissie Collins was awarded the American Medical Association’s highest honor - “The Citation for Distinguished Service.” She and daughter Linda Collins Maurer also appeared on “This Morning” hosted by Paula Zahn on CBS.
MedicAlert Foundation Today
Today, MedicAlert Foundation continues to provide its services to millions of members throughout the United States and worldwide affiliates. Thousands of emergency calls are answered each year by our dedicated team of trained staff and on-site emergency response specialists.