The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award
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The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, media, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke
2012 Winner: Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office "Yellow Dot" Program
First responders with access to an injured person’s critical medical information are better equipped to stabilize their patients sufficiently to get them to a hospital. The Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office’s “Yellow Dot” program provides just such information. A yellow dot sticker adhered to the back window of a vehicle alerts first responder to look for a yellow folder stored in the vehicle’s glove box. This folder contains a photograph and medical information sheet for the driver and/or occupants.
The “Yellow Dot” idea got its start in a few communities in Connecticut. In 2011, with just a two-person staff, the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office took the concept and turned it into a nationally recognized, trend-setting program.
The program started with limited funding as a pilot program in Etowah County, and geared toward seniors only due to the relatively high incidence of traffic death among older drivers involved. Demand for the program turned into a statewide campaign for seniors that was broadened to include children and other adults with special needs, and anyone wanting to share medical information with first responders in the event that they cannot.
The expanded program required a larger funding base and assistance in organizing and implementing it statewide. The Alabama Department of Economics and Community Affairs/ Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Division provided a $110,000 grant from the state’s traffic safety trust fund. Employee Lora Weaver stepped up to manage the program, in addition to her day-to-day duties.
To implement the program statewide, staff from the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office traveled throughout the state to conduct first responder briefings, hold press conferences, and help set up enrollment stations where citizens can sign-up for the free program in just minutes.
Soon the program’s popularity spread nationwide. After a July 21, 2011 USA TODAY feature on the “Yellow Dot” program, the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office was inundated by phone calls and emails by more than 450 individuals and agencies from all 49 other states – each requesting information on how to bring the program into their communities. To date, the office has provided guidance to help develop “Yellow Dot” programs in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia even sought to include the program in the recent federal highway reauthorization bill.
The “Yellow Dot” program’s ability to speak to emergency personnel when the patient is unable to is helping save lives of all ages on Alabama roadways. Thanks to Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office, thousands of Alabama citizens now have a better chance of surviving a traffic crash during the critical first hour after a trauma.
For more information, contact assistant program coordinator Lora Weaver at 256-549-8142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.