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At The End Of The Day, It's All About Your Family.










This decal is similar to that of the Organ Donor decal, which is administered by most licensing offices.

Would you like a visual symbol that shows you have registered your emergency information with NOKR?  Please send NOKR a Self Address Stamped Envelope (SASE) with a note on how many decals you need for yourself, family or group.

A self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), is an envelope with the sender's name and address on it, with affixed paid postage and mailed to NOKR at the address below:

P.O. Box 1002
Bonita, CA 91908-1002


P.O. Box 1002
Bonita, CA 91908-1002



During any emergency situation emergency personnel will seek out your identification. A decal on your identification will alert and expedite locating your registered contacts and any medical concerns you may have registered with NOKR.

Where can I place my decal? 

1)    On your Drivers License or Identification Card

2)    On your child’s school ID Card

3)    On your child care information card

4)   On your passport

5)   Add ICE NOKR to your cell phone contacts. Use this contact number (1-800-915-5413)


Do you have a personal experience that you would like to share in hopes that this may not happen to another family again? NOKR has received many emails from people just like yourself asking to share what they have endured to help others.

Would you like to share a story about a family member?

Do you have a story about how the National Next Of Kin Registry has helped you or your family?

Was a family member injured, missing or deceased and you were not notified or located?

Do you have a family member or friend that was alone when they were injured or died and NOKR could have helped emergency responders locate you?

Your experience will be reprinted at the NOKR and will help others understand what could happen and what has happened. NOKR has created this area to allow people to share their experiences with others. NOKR's intention is not to exploit your tragedies but to help other avoid the same sadness that you have endured.

So that we can learn from mistakes of the past in order to educate and enhance better communication in the future. Your stories will help inspire others to reflect on what they are doing now and best practices of tomorrow.

Mark Cerney the founder of NOKR said “ If my story can help solve the problems of today and the mistakes of yesterday then it's a story worth telling.”

Stories received will not have any personal contact information displayed. Some stories may be reduced depending on length. Please do not add a website link in your story as we cannot add outside links. NOKR will only list the city, state and country where the event took place.  If you would like your first initial and last name displayed please indicate this at the end of your story. 

If you have a photo of your loved one to add with your story email this to admin@pleasenotifyme.org (Please do not change the subject line of the email)

Featured Story

Tennessee, USA

I discovered the registry a few months ago and just went ahead and signed up my family, never really thinking that it would be important. Then 17 days ago, my husband left to do a construction job in a city 2 1/2 hours away, in a city where we knew NO ONE! One mile from the job site, my 42-year-old husband, who never complained of anything and seemed perfectly healthy, HAD A HEART ATTACK! The front section of his heart had stopped. He had two blockages.

I woke up to a phone call from the hospital. His cell phone which had the I.C.E. (in case of emergency) stored in the phone book was in his truck. But the words I heard on the other end of phone was a young lady informing me that she had got my number from the NEXT OF KIN REGISTRY and my husband was at the hospital. She then gave me the information and directions and told me what was going on with my husband.

To shorten the story, I was able to give her the information they needed over the phone while in route to my husband. Thanks to NOKR, I was standing next to my husband’s bed when he awoke from his surgery. If I had not registered it could have taking hours for the hospital to locate me.

Like most people, we have an unlisted number and he didn't take his cell phone in with him. If he suffered from drug allergies or had other problems, he could have been dead. So to NOKR, I say thank you for making it possible for me to be there holding his hand when he woke. And on a final note, while he was lying in the hospital, he looked over at me and said, "Honey, I think we should tell friends and folks about that "Registry Thing".


Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA

On Thursday April 20th 2006, a family called NOKR from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and indicated that a family member of theirs was found unconscious in his California home due to a stroke. A neighbor had found the unconscious man's NOKR registration card attached to his refrigerator. This card prompted the family to call NOKR. NOKR promptly put the calling family member in touch with the Milwaukee Sheriff's Department. Within an hour NOKR was contacted by the Milwaukee Sheriff's Department. In minutes NOKR verified the calling agency and provided them access to the National registry. With this access the Sheriff's Department was able to view the unconscious person’s NOKR file and determined there were additional family members the victim listed to notify.


Port Huron, Michigan USA

I must say that of all the government agencies I have contacted in the past that, your organization has surpassed my highest expectations.

You have made a woman who was in a rather frenzied state, rest a little easier knowing that she has been able to make contact with her husband’s children when time was of the essence.

My sincere appreciation and I am sure Mary would say the same, goes out to all who are working in this group.

I hope that you will forward this letter of thanks to all involved and I would appreciate you passing this letter along to the people who are responsible for administering such a useful and helpful tool to the public.

You should be proud of how fast and efficiently you and your group have replied to this request and actually gone above the call of duty by contacting the parties involved to help a lady in her time of distress.


New Orleans, Louisiana USA
As the days passed, the nights flew by. We never knew that our lives would be changed forever by Hurricane Katrina. I stood in my home of 12 years. I thought of the wonderful memories of my home. I didn't have a car so me and my family couldn't get out of the storm. I disavowed each idea as I tried to plot out how we would either ride the storm out or would a miracle happen? The day that the whole city was preparing to leave, a sudden feeling came over me. I knew that something was wrong and that somehow I must get out of the Hurricane. As we planned to pack our things to get to the Superdome, which was packed, I realized that my mother and father had an extra van that was paid off, but would they give it to me? As two hours passed by, I started to think in denial,” I will be ok, my family will be ok." Well it wasn't ok and I knew that I would have to get out to save my family. My parents called and said that we had to get out and that they would let me use the van. I quickly called my wife and told her that her and the children would need to pack all our important papers and clothing for our next trip to "Hurricane Rita" (Lake Charles, LA). As we went to Lake Charles and watch the news continuously for 2 weeks, we knew that Hurricane Rita was about to take a visit to Lake Charles. Well, my daughter was pregnant and she was about to have a premature baby. WE didn't know that she would come out of the hospital and be able to leave the storm. She got out of the hospital the day before the storm was supposed to hit.

We rode to Alexandria, LA to stay by my parents for 3 days.

Then, we decided that we needed to get where my job was located so I could start making some money. My job was in Lubbock, TX. I had to out there. Well, I got out there and my job was different and not very compassionate. So, I left and moved to Houston where I would be living for the rest of my life. I am now about to start my own restaurant and move into a new home.

NOKR has helped me by giving me information about loved ones and I would like to thank them for all of their hard work!! Thanks NOKR!

Chicago, Illinois USA

On Saturday evening, January 16, 2005, I opened the first bill that had come from Weiss Memorial Hospital for my brother, Jim Cooper.  It read:           

            December 17, 2004

            CRITICAL CARE, FIRST HOUR, $681.00

            INSERT EMERGENCY AIRWAY, $426.00 

Jim had moved to the city for a fresh start in the summer and we had not heard much from him.  He was never a great communicator and we often spoke about how "Oh, he's fine, he's just busy."  Besides, we told our mother, if something ever happened to him, someone would be sure to let us know. 

The following morning, Sunday, January 17, 2005, after church, I called Weiss Memorial to inquire if my brother was still there.  After being transferred many times, an ICU secretary bluntly told me that Jim had died a month ago, December 17, 2004.  Stunned, I asked, "Where is he now?" and my call was transferred to Admitting where I discovered that Jim was indeed still there  . . . downstairs in their morgue.  Horrified, I said we would come into the city in the morning. 

The next day, Monday, my sister Teresa and her husband John, my husband and I drove into Weiss Memorial.  The manager of Admitting took us into a small office and asked, "What do you know?"  Huh?  We really didn't know anything.  He kept telling us that he couldn't share any information with us.  Dumbfounded by his muteness, we pleaded for someone else we might talk with.  We were walked upstairs to a prayer room, to wait. 

After a long time, a Nursing Executive arrived and announced that she wouldn't be of much help either but then proceeded to ask "What do you know?"  By this time my heartbreak and frustration overflowed.  Their lack of compassion, almost indifference, was stunning.  Why were we so unwelcome?  Their only concern was, "What do you know?"  How could we know anything?  That's what we were there for. 

We asked if there was some place where we could get some water, sit and talk.  We just really wanted to connect with someone and piece things back together.  We were devastated.  After being warned about the appearance of a month old body, John went to the morgue.  He identified the body and collected Jim's belongings.  We kept asking, "How could this happen?"  "What really happened?"  The circular explanation offered was that the death certificate was not satisfactory to the Medical Examiners office, that the doctor was on family medical leave, that the Medical Examiner wouldn't take the body because of the error and since the ME never got the body.  And they really couldn't say much more.  Apparently the death certificate was still incomplete at that time. 

Hoping to meet and speak with someone who had actually cared for my brother, we returned to the hospital three different times before eventually going away broken.   It was just too painful and too confusing.  On the last visit we finally saw Jim's doctor.  She said she had never met my brother and only spoke with the hospital by phone and didn't complete the first death certificate until two weeks after he had died.   

Jim had been working at running the kitchens (and staying) at a homeless shelter near Weiss Memorial.  He was brought to the hospital, unconscious and never able to speak for himself and it appears that he had no advocate at Weiss.  Inside his wallet, along with his drivers license and other ID was a list of family names and phone numbers.  While they took the time to check his ID for a billing address, his date of birth and social security number, they must have never looked any further.  Perhaps, assuming he was homeless too.  I must say, even homeless folks have hurting families who love them.  Jim was admitted to the ER at six in the morning and died about 9 in the evening.  All through that long day, none of the family listed in his wallet nor anyone where he was working and living was contacted.   Somebody could have been there with him and that hurts.  And what about stashing a body in the basement for a month?  Does that happen a lot? 

Mistakes happen every day and the first person who assumed, "He must just be a homeless guy" made a horrible mistake.  I can forgive that.  However, dozens of people must have had the opportunity to correct that mistake and did not.  "Doesn't this guy have any family?"  "Are you sure?" 

We do not know what kind of medical care Jim received.  "Adequate", is what we guess, and we are grateful for that.  Sadly, we will never really know. 

But we did get a bill.

Oceanside, California USA

In 1997, my 28-year-old son died at the guest quarters at March Air Force Base, CA. He was a California Army National Guardsman, and as such he was eligible to stay at military guest quarters when traveling, but not on duty. Unknown to the Guard and almost everyone but a few of his friends my son had been diagnosed with Type 1 Insulin Dependent Diabetes about a year before his death. He had not taken his insulin because if it had been detected that he was a diabetic on insulin he would have been discharged from the Guard that he so dearly loved. He went into cardiac arrest and died secondary to diabetic ketoacidosis. The Riverside County coroner is supposed to inform the next of kin and when they found out that my son did not have his mother or father (we are divorced) listed on his military records they did nothing. Two days after his death an investigator from the Air Force tracked me down.
Had this man not cared that my son had a proper burial, I may not have known for years that he was dead because my son had not been in contact with me or his father for six years. Boys exert their independence sometimes in the hardest ways on Moms. National Guard members don't get buried in the National Cemetery until they have 20-years nowadays, so it was vital that his Mother be found. I now live alone. I registered with NOKR. I would not want my mother, or my surviving children to not know for any period of time my whereabouts.


Los Angeles, California USA
My seventy-one year old mother Elaine Sullivan, a vibrant woman, living on her own, who slipped and fell in her bathroom at home in Chicago. A neighbor found her and sent for the paramedics, who took her to a local hospital. 

Although doctors and nurses noted that she was unable to give them a medical history or give consent for her treatment, the hospital didn't make any effort to call us (or her personal physician or HMO), for six days.  Despite the fact that they had my phone number right on the cover sheet of her chart, every consent and admission form simply remained unsigned.

According to their records, the hospital and physicians missed an open cut on my mother's foot, which quickly led to a staph infection. They neglected to feed her, failed to take blood cultures, or to give her the aggressive antibiotics she needed. By the fifth day, she was in critical condition and in intensive care.

My daughter Laura and I are a mother and daughter writing team and live in Los Angeles.  Since my mother was supposed to have left for vacation that week, we had no idea she'd been hospitalized. By the time the hospital got in touch with us - nearly seven days after her admission - it was clear that we wouldn't make it to Chicago in time to be with her. Even though we pleaded with the physicians and the nursing staff to get a phone to her, so she could at least hear our voices for what would probably be the last time, they totally refused.
Soon after she passed away, unnecessarily and completely alone.

When Laura and I found out how long she had actually been hospitalized, our grief turned to action, trying to find a way to keep the same thing from happening to anyone else. We began to hear similar stories from families nationwide - circumstances where people had been injured in accidents or had fallen ill at home, and were hospitalized for hours, days or in some cases weeks, without so much as a phone call to the patient's spouse, family or emergency contact.   

We were positive the hospital must have broken a law by not calling me for six and a half days.  But through research, we discovered something incredible. There wasn't one Illinois, California or federal law that required a hospital to contact a patient's family, even if the patient is unconscious or unable to communicate. In my mother's case that simple act would have saved her life.  Not only would we have known she had been hospitalized, enabling us to be with her, but it also would have enabled us to give her physicians the medical history they needed to prevent complications that ended up claiming her life.  We also would have been able to see that she received the care that she deserved. 

That's when we decided to partner with legislators to create the Next of Kin Law.    

The moment our legislators heard our story and that of so many other families, they agreed that we had to take action.   So we got together with Legislators in California and Illinois to create The Next of Kin Law.  With the help of health organizations, advocacy groups and celebrities, the Next of Kin Law was enacted in both states in 2000/01.  The law simply states that a hospital must make reasonable efforts to contact the next of kin of patients who come into a hospital unconscious or physically unable to give informed consent, within 24 hours of admission.  (read more about the state next of kin laws).

After my mother's death, we spoke the head of a local risk manager's association, who told us that the only reason hospitals notify families at all, is because it's the right thing to do. From the people we've spoken to, this seems to be the consensus. The problem is, staff members at busy, overburdened hospitals can forget to do the right thing.

This law protects the rights of hospital patients and their families, while reducing the hospital's own liability.  By providing a surrogate decision maker to make informed choices, hospitals will not have to guess what a patient's wishes might be.  When a family member has been allowed to make a treatment choice, the family is much less likely to sue, in the case of a negative medical outcome, than if they had not been able to make the informed decision for their loved one's care.

The good news is that to date, 6 states have a next of kin statute on their books.  They include California, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Hawaii.  The bad news is that 44 states are still unprotected.

This story was shorten by NOKR..