Three years ago, Erie County joined the growing Yellow Dot program that can give first responders vital medical information about people, especially senior citizens, who are unable to communicate after a car crash or other emergency.
The only problem is, relatively few people know about the program.
Officials hope a yearlong awareness campaign will change that. An assortment of groups organized the effort, including the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Erie County Medical Center, the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and the county Department of Social Services.
The goal: Get the word out on a program that can save lives.
“We have many vulnerable seniors, and seconds matter,” Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said Monday.
The program involves obtaining a free kit that includes a Yellow Dot decal to stick on a door, or a home or car window, and an information card about a person’s medical needs that is kept in a car glove compartment, or in a clear plastic freezer bag placed in a visible location in a refrigerator freezer.
The Yellow Dot program began in 2002 in Connecticut and was organized in New York State by the Sheriffs’ Association.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office introduced the program in 2013. However, no one has been saved by the program since its introduction here because so few residents and first responders, including firefighters and police, are aware of it, Howard said.
The Sheriff’s Office and other organizations will conduct a series of community meetings about the program, starting at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Amherst Senior Center, 370 John James Audubon Parkway.
More information is available by calling 858-7608.
Meanwhile, ECMC and Bertrand Chaffee Hospital have agreed to train emergency room staff to recognize the Yellow Dot form when a patient enters their facilities, and to advise discharged patients about the program.
To request a Yellow Dot kit, visit nysheriffs.org/yellowdot.