Friday, May 27, 2011

Yellow Dot car program speeds help to crash victims

Yellow Dot car program speeds help to crash victims

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

A national program that immediately provides first responders with vital information about automobile crash victims is spreading rapidly, fueled by the growing wave of maturing Baby Boomers.

By Bob Farley, for USA TODAY

The Yellow Dot program is designed to help crash victims, especially seniors, communicate with rescuers during the crucial "golden hour," the first 60 minutes after a serious crash that can make the difference between life and death for the critically injured.

It is simple but effective: Participants in the free program receive a yellow dot to place on their rear window; it alerts emergency services personnel to look for a corresponding yellow folder in the glove box. That folder contains a photograph, their medical conditions, prescriptions and other vital information.

In Alabama, the program started in Etowah County in 2009; by June, it will be operating in 27 counties.

"There's a lot of interest from two different groups," says Lora Weaver, program coordinator for the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office, who is adding two or three counties a month to the program.

"The residents of the state … realize the importance of it, particularly someone with a lot of medical issues. The second group is the first responders, because they know when they arrive, if the person is unable to communicate, they know they can go to the glove compartment and get the information they need, and they can do it immediately without wasting a lot of time."

About 30,000 to 40,000 Alabamians are enrolled.

The nation's first Yellow Dot program began in Connecticut in 2002. Yellow Dot programs, with slight variations from state to state, are in counties scattered across at least eight other states: Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama and New York. Georgia is among other states considering the program.

"It is very nice to see innovative programs to address the unique risks associated with older Americans and car crashes," says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Since older individuals tend to have more medical conditions, are on more medications and are generally more fragile, this sounds like a well-justified program, especially in light of the growing number of older Americans."

"It's a promising approach," says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "Actually, this is one of the goals of automated crash notification systems. Eventually, when there is a crash, these key data such as medication needed will automatically be available to EMTs, etc. The Yellow Dot program may be a system that can be helpful in the meantime."

Traci Pondick, 47, of Rainbow City, Ala., swears by it.

Her husband Marc's parents, Norman and Ping Pondick of Southside, Ala., enrolled in Yellow Dot soon after it began in Etowah County. Several months ago, Norman Pondick, 83, was driving alone in his pickup when he swerved to avoid hitting a car that had stopped in front of him. He left the road and hit a tree, lacerating his head.

"The first responders saw the sticker and immediately pulled the folder out," says Traci Pondick. "They called Marc. They were worried about the cut on his head."

Norman Pondick was air-lifted to University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital in Jefferson County. The family drove there.

"When we went back to see him, the nurse held up the Yellow Dot folder and said, 'Where did you get this?' Yellow Dot was not in Jefferson County at that time. I told her about it. She said, 'This is the best thing I've ever seen.'"

Norman Pondick soon recovered. Traci Pondick got her mother to enroll.

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1 comment:

Lora Weaver said...

Thank you for sharing information about the Yellow Dot program. Our office is the lead office for the state of Alabama's Yellow Dot program which was featured in the article. For more information on Alabama's program, go to or search for Alabama Yellow Dot on facebook. Since the USA Today article ran, we have been contacted by 20 states wishing more information on how to get the program started.