When an auto accident takes place, medical first responders are often immediately dispatched to the scene. These responders – police officers, firefighters, EMTs, even local volunteers – usually have only basic information, such as the location of the crash and the number of victims. In this early, critical period of care, very little personalized information is available.

The innovative “Yellow Dot” program is aimed at correcting this problem. Because the first 60 minutes after an injury are so important, individualized health information can mean the difference between life and death. This so-called “Golden Hour” is especially important in remote areas where definitive care can be quite some distance away. And as the American population continues to age, underlying medical conditions and prescription medications are becoming more and more common among accident victims.

Participants in the Yellow Dot program are supplied with a yellow sticker and a corresponding yellow folder. The sticker is placed in a conspicuous and consistent place, usually the rear window on the driver’s side in most participating counties. When a first responder spots the sticker, he or she knows to check the glove compartment for a yellow envelope or folder. The folder contains personalized medical information and allows medical personnel to quickly identify their patient. Armed with this background, responders can better tailor their treatment and call ahead to the receiving hospital to better prepare the staff.

While the Yellow Dot program has not caught on everywhere yet, the program is expanding. It is a very simple and cost-effective approach to caring for accident victims who may not be able to fully communicate their medical histories. In an emergency, accurate and complete medical information can save time and save lives.