SPARTA, NJ – Gathered around a table in a classroom at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Tuesday, members of the Sparta Women’s Club and one police officer put together Vials of Life kits for the community.
The kits are a ziplock bag with a Vial of Life sticker on the front. The bag contains a form to be completed by the resident of the home, containing vital information including residents’ health issues, medications and emergency contacts.
A red Vial of Life sticker placed on the front door alerts first responders that there is a kit affixed to the refrigerator. The form can be copied so each member of the household has their information included in the kit.
Sparta Lt. John Lamon was taking time out of his day to help with the assembly line creating kits.
“The Sparta Police Department wholeheartedly supports any group or initiative that is beneficial and has a positive impact on the residents of Sparta,” Lamon said.
Committee Chairwoman Marjorie Strohsahl, a former EMT, said for 20 years she was called on by her neighbor as they grew older and faced “several health issues.”
“The last time I was called to go over there, [the neighbor] had to be medevacked to the hospital,” Strohsahl said. The incident got her thinking back to years ago when the Juniors Sparta Woman’s Club did this initiative.
“I thought it was time to revive it,” Strohsahl said.
She said, as of 2016 there are 3,169 senior citizens in Sparta. "We are one of the top three towns in Sussex County with a big senior population." While senior seem the most likely to use the kits, they would be helpful to many others, Strohsahl said.
The kits cost $0.50 each. The Woman’s Club, with a donation by the Sparta Kiwanis organization, provided the seed money. They are seeking additional donations with the hope to have a kit for every residence in Sparta.
Woman's Club President Roberta Dyrsten said, "$500 gets us 1000 kits. We are really looking donations."
“The Sparta Woman’s Club joined by Sparta Police Department, Sparta Ambulance Squad and Kiwanis has stepped up to the plate for this worthwhile initiative,” incoming club president Beth Meier said. “We welcome as many sponsors as possible.”
“The information could be for anyone; child with special needs, resident with allergies, even mental health issues are included on the form,” Dyrsten said.
The women are expecting to have a table at the Junior Woman's Club's Sparta Day to offer the kits to the community. Following that event they anticipate offering them at other locations such as the Senior Center at Knoll Heights and the library.
“The Vial of Life initiative is a great service provided to all of our Sparta residents, especially those having a medical crisis,” Lamon said. “It enables First Responders -police, EMS, paramedics - to immediately access critical medical information that will help in accessing and treating a patient quickly before or while the patient is in route to a hospital.”
Sparta Woman’s Club is part of the New Jersey State Federation of Woman’s Clubs.
“It is one of the largest non-profit, non-denominational organizations in the world,” Strohsahl said. They are in 12 countries around the world. Sparta's club is part of the Highlands district that encompasses clubs in Sussex, Morris, Warren and part of Somerset Counties. Sparta's club next meets on April 4 at Lake Mohawk Country Club. They have members from Sussex and Morris Counties.