09 November 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Xtreme Sports ID

As we're reminded every time that we sign an event waiver, cycling is an inherently dangerous activity. As with most pursuits, there is always the chance that something will go wrong and someone will get hurt. That's not a surprise- every one of us has taken a spill or two, and accidents can happen in any activity- but the fact remains that there might be a day when a ride ends in enough of a mishap that medical personnel need to be summoned.

Because such events are relatively few and far between, it's important that any preparation on the rider's part for that possibility not be particularly demanding (otherwise we're likely just not to bother at some point). I know riders who put emergency contact information in their wallets and on tags hanging their packs, but it's hard to keep comprehensive information close at hand. Ideally, any emergency information (contact numbers, medical conditions, insurance information) should be kept on the rider's person at all times. To that end, a new company called Xtreme Sports ID have come out with an eponymous silicone wristband (à la Livestrong) that addresses just these problems.

Xtreme Sports ID were at Interbike last month and offered to set attendees (bikefix included) up with one of their wristbands, which retails for $10. They walked us through the process of registration, which really was quite simple. Each band comes with one year of service (additional years cost $5) and is imprinted with a unique ID number, a toll-free telephone number and a bright orange caduceus (generally recognized as a symbol for medicine or doctors, especially in the United States). The idea is that emergency responders can call the number, input the 8-digit identifier from the band and be given the injured person's name, medical and emergency contacts and any allergies that might interfere with treatment. For those who have the information available, registration is quick and easy: a 5-10 minute process, with the posted information being available immediately by phone.

We think that the idea is a good one, though have a couple of reservations about the design of the band itself. Given the ubiquity of these silicone wristbands, we (and the medical professionals we've unscientifically polled) worry that the Xtreme Sports ID could be overlooked by first responders- even cut off and discarded at the scene of an accident. It seems as though best way to ensure visibility would be to have a minimum of three caducei around the band, such that one or two are always in plain sight. Also, the band-colored numbers on the band are a bit hard to read in low-light conditions. We have to rely on the company's claims that their system is reliable- the two times we called and entered our ID, it worked just fine. We remember being told that there is some redundancy in place to ensure that the necessary information is always available, though couldn't find any explanation on the company's website. In order to reduce annoying shaking and to keep the caduceus visible, we've taken to wearing it over a glove wristband. The hope is that any medical personnel would want to remove the downright disgusting mitts before doing too much work and would have to go through the Xtreme Sports ID to do it.

Despite our concerns, at $10, the Xtreme Sports ID is cheap insurance. When it comes to emergencies, the more information that medical personnel have available to them, the better. Increasing the number (and thus visibility) of caducei would really address our main concern with the product and make it a no-brainer. As it stands, it's probably a still an excellent idea. The Xtreme Sports ID is available in four sizes for each of 7 colors.



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