Medical Emergencies
      • Download SAA’s First Responder Information Card, and keep it in your wallet.
      • Consider wearing medical identification “jewelry/tags” since emergency medical personnel are trained to look for these items.
      • “Brittle Spine Disease” and “Ankylosing Spondylitis” (or “Spondyloarthritis with spinal fusion”) inscribed on the tag will alert first responders to your special situation.
      • Consider carrying a medical information card in your wallet, with your vital personal information such as any conditions, and any medications you take. (Carry the card in your wallet next to your driver’s license and health insurance card. Be sure that it is legible to the average reader.)
      • Download and share our educational flyer created for First Responders on managing those with spondyloarthritis during emergency situations.
      • Consider including an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in your mobile phone. Emergency personnel are trained to recognize the acronym “ICE”. Be sure that your ICE contact is aware of your medical needs.
      • For smart phone users who lock their phones – You can set your Emergency Medical ID to have it be accessible from your locked screen, without needing your passcode.
        • For iPhone Users – You can configure and enable this option through your “Health” app. Please, see Apple Support  for instructions.
        • For Android Users – Most versions of Android do support lock screen apps such as this. Please, see Google Support and Emergency Info for instructions.
          You can also download a free medical ID app for your Android phone, such as this one: Medical ID (Free): In Case of Emergency

First Responder Information Card

Be prepared for emergency situations with SAA’s first responder information card. Please print, fold, and keep this card in your wallet, to assist first responders in safely caring for you in the event of a medical emergency. You can also email us at to request a hard copy card.

Our thanks to Novartis for their financial support of this wallet card through an educational grant.

 Letter to First Responders

The SAA has developed a letter to spread awareness to first responders about the risks associated with treating people with spondyloarthritis. Personalize and print this letter and send it to your local emergency medical services agency to encourage EMTs, paramedics, and other first responders to take our free courses on safe methods for treating people with SpA

ER Flyer

The SAA has developed an informational sheet about spondyloarthritis that you can bring to an ER to help emergency care providers gain a basic working knowledge of the condition, the medications you take and how they work, and risks associated with SpA in an emergency setting. This flyer may help ease the way for you to receive effective and safer care.

Patient Medical History Form

The SAA has developed a letter template that you can complete with your doctors to document your treatment and typical levels of pain and functioning. After working on the document with your rheumatologist or primary care physician, you can present it to emergency care providers to give them an understanding of how you typically function, as it may di­ffer from how you present upon arrival to the ER.

Bruce Pierce, an advocate for the SpA community, discusses how his family turned a tragedy into an opportunity to educate first responders and anesthesiologists about the special risks, care procedures, along with self-advocacy suggestions for patients with SpA

Introducing, “EMS Pitfalls: Ankylosing Spondylitis,” SAA’s free, online course offering continuing education hours!