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Changing insulins during a disaster

Nothing is more frightening to a person with diabetes than to be separated from their essential medications and supplies. Natural disasters like Hurricanes and Earthquakes underscore the fragility of life. Upheavals like these compel us to problem-solve like never before. As persons with diabetes we may be forced to use other types of insulin when our supplies are lost or damaged.

My brilliant colleague Matthew Stephen asked me right after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas if there was a guide which could be used by people using borrowed insulin which differed from what they used. To my surprise I found no such guide existed.

As part of the volunteer consortium called T1 Team Texas. I teamed up with Kelley Crumpler, Anne Imber, Melinda Rose, Michelle Kallesen, Sonya Wooley and Dr. Neil Burrell (all active in the Houston diabetes online community and PWD's or parents of CWD's). We immediately started "connecting the dots" by locating people in acute need of insulin whilst the largeer organizations were paralyzed by the ongoing storm event. Thsi team perfected a system of "micro-targeting" insulin and diabetes supplies to specific people in need across the Texas coast who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Often this involved a network of runners. At some point we even got the National Guard and state helicopters to carry supplies across flooded streets and highways.

But as effective as we were, this insulin sharing system often didn't exactly replace what was lost. Compromises were required. Dr. Matt Stephen's suggestion for a guide was brilliant: create an easy to use handout which could guide substitution. After all, there are many types of basal and rapid-acting insulin now and names can get confusing.

With this idea, I immediately reached out to a good friend and colleague, Barbara Kocurek PharmD, CDE with Baylor Scott and White Healthcare in Dallas. Barb and her incredible team of Texas-based diabetes educators came up with a brief, to-the-point handout in just a matter of days. They continue to refine it and it is now before an Endocrine Society subcommittee to validate it even further.

This is the English version.

Next, Jimmy and Mila Ferrer in Orlando, Florida volunteered to conduct a careful Spanish translation which is also attached to this site. They are actively involved in the Spanish diabetes online community and didn't hesitate to provide the best possible translation. These items were shared with Carol Atkinson with Insulin for Life and included in all relief shipments to Mexico and Puerto Rico.

This is the Spanish language version.

This was the ultimate TEAM effort and it all came together in a brief period of time.

Please use these guides.

Save them to your hard drive.

Print them out and laminate them along with your other priceless guides and personal information in case of a future emergency when there is no electricity or Internet connection.

Also, please share them.

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