Yellow dot can help emergency responders help you after traffic accidents

May 26 2012 - 11:05pm

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OGDEN -- Helpful as a new program aims to be after a traffic accident, when every second can count, it's not going to be effective if drivers and emergency responders don't know about it, so Utah Highway Safety specialist Rhonda Parker is out to change that and bring the program to the Top of Utah.

As the program's coordinator, Parker helped bring the national Yellow Dot program to Utah earlier this year, kicking it off in Tooele County.

Drivers can put a special yellow sticker on the driver's side of their vehicle's rear window. That sticker lets first responders know that a packet of the driver's emergency medical information -- history, allergies, contacts and a photo -- is in the glove box of the vehicle.

This information helps responders better help drivers in an emergency, particularly if drivers are unconscious, dazed, having a medical issue or are otherwise unable to speak for themselves.

Since the launch, an estimated 7,000 people have signed up for the program statewide, including in the Top of Utah, mostly through word of mouth.

The Yellow Dot program has not been officially "kicked off" anywhere in Utah outside of Tooele County, Parker said.

But she wants to be sure that law enforcement and fire and medical responders know as much as possible about the Yellow Dot program.

She has been working with departments in Davis, Weber and Morgan counties to launch the program in the Top of Utah. She plans to kick off a campaign in Weber and Morgan counties next month, raising awareness of the program and getting people signed up.

Ogden Deputy Fire Chief Eric Bauman heard about the Yellow Dot program in a recent work meeting.

It reminds him of the File of Life program, which has people keep their pertinent medical information in a file attached to their refrigerator. The file is helpful when family members aren't around and the patient is in trouble.

Bauman said he's happy to see the emergency file program expanding to vehicles.

"It can be a challenge for us if we don't have the information that would be helpful to us," he said.

The "golden hour," the first 60 minutes following a crash, makes the biggest difference in the outcome of victims who aren't killed outright, Parker said.

Emergency responders can use the pertinent information from the glove box to start the right treatment as soon as possible. Responders can also send the forms to the hospital when victims are taken away by ambulance or helicopter.

Talks about the Yellow Dot are not as far along in Davis County, but Parker does hope to soon introduce the program to the cities there.

Funding, in any location, is an issue. It cost about $3,500 to begin the program in Tooele County, and Parker figures it costs $7,000 to $8,000 a year to run the program.

The program's website notes that Yellow Dot relies on donations.

To request a free sticker, contact Parker at 801-366-6043 or rhondaparker@utah.gov.

Click here for more information, including a downloadable version of the information form for the glove box.

The form purposely does not include some potentially compromising information -- Social Security numbers and birth dates -- because of the risk of identity theft.

Parker urges program participants to place the filled-out forms in a plastic ziploc bag in the glove box so that it is more easily identifiable to emergency responders and is waterproof.

To date, Parker doesn't know of any particular accidents where the yellow dot has come into play.

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