NC city expanding 'yellow dot' lifesaving program

The Yellow Dot program provides first responders with a person’s medical history, allergies, medications and medical conditions


Danielle Battaglia
News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When a man hunting in Guilford County lost consciousness, paramedics who arrived to help scrambled to figure out what was wrong with him.

One of the paramedics began digging through the man’s wallet, looking for any information that could help. And there it was, a Yellow Dot card advising that the man had diabetes.

The card is part of the Yellow Dot program, which provides first responders with a person’s medical history, allergies, medications and medical conditions. Guilford County began using the program here more than nine years ago, however, it had faded in recent years.

Now Sheriff Danny Rogers wants to remind the community of the potentially life-saving program.

“We hope to get as many people as possible to get on board with Yellow Dot,” Rogers said. “This truly can be a lifesaver and is a worthwhile investment of your time.”

Here’s how it works. A yellow sticker gets placed on the back window of a vehicle or the front door of a house. The sticker lets paramedics know to check for a medical history inside a yellow envelope, either in the glove box or on the fridge. The packet includes a spot for a photo to help paramedics identify the right person.

While the hunter wasn’t near his vehicle or home, the medical card in his wallet alerted paramedics that he had diabetes and had fallen into a diabetic coma. That information ultimately saved his life.

The Yellow Dot program, started in Connecticut in 2002, first came to Guilford County around 2010.

At the time, a Highway Patrol trooper-turned Guilford County sheriff’s deputy applied for a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission to bring the program to the county, making it the first to have one in North Carolina.

“The program was really successful when it first came out,” said Master Cpl. J.A. Page. “People were really involved in it.”

But after many years the deputies who launched the program were promoted or retired and the program faded into the background.

Page made a recent push to publicize the program after relaunching it last summer.

“Even if you are wearing a medical bracelet, if you’re in a car accident or anything like that, it is sort of hard to get that kind of information,” Page said. “The way the program is designed you get a packet with two medical forms for your home and your car.”

He said the program at first was aimed at elderly drivers but has since expanded.

“We work with a lot of autistic children,” Page said. “We work with a lot of people with special medical needs or allergies or things we need to identify quickly.”

Page said when people are in an accident or injured they’re often unconscious or in shock and can’t tell paramedics their medical history. The Yellow Dot program aims to bridge that gap.

So far, the sheriff’s office has given out at least 8,000 packets and ordered another 6,000, Page said.

Deputies said they will mail out the Yellow Dot packets to community watch groups, nursing homes or individuals. Page said packets also have been distributed to high school students just starting to drive.

Deputies are working with Guilford County Emergency Medical Service and Greensboro fire and police departments.

However, the program can even help when something happens while someone is out of state. Page said a paramedic who doesn’t use the program may see the sticker in someone’s window and Google it or find the matching envelope in a glove box and realize the person has a medical need.

Page said they realized how vital the program is and decided to relaunch it.

“That’s why we’re putting so much effort into it now,” he said.

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©2019 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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