A program to help first responders quickly gather important medical information after car accidents and other emergencies officially launched Wednesday in Calaveras County.
The "Yellow Dot" program provides for kits that go in a vehicle's glove box with a photograph, medical conditions, prescriptions, emergency contacts and other vital information on the driver and regular passengers, also known as a "file of life."
A yellow dot sticker on the vehicle's rear window notifies emergency rescue workers that the kit is there.
It launched in 2002 in Connecticut and Yellow Dot Program Committee member Bob Jones of Mokelumne Hill said it has been proven to save lives in jurisdictions all across the country.
The first yellow dot sign-ups were conducted Wednesday at the Calaveras Senior Center in San Andreas. The free kits will also be available at the Murphys Senior Center, Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue in Mountain Ranch and Foothills Drug Store in Valley Springs.
"We're going to have our first participant today and you're looking at him right here," said Murphys Senior Center Executive Director Steve Shetzline, pointing to Day Manager Bob Wagner.
Wagner grabbed a kit which he said would promptly go into his pickup.
Calaveras Volunteer Center Executive Director Marti Crane said San Andreas attorney Alan Horvath reviewed the forms that go into the kit to ensure they are legally binding.
"We all know we should have an advanced care directive. We all know it but we don't do it," Crane said.
She added that a person's wishes, such as a "do not resuscitate" order, "must be in (a responder's) hand or else they're going to throw everything they have at you."
The yellow dot kit gives emergency workers that type of information, she said.
Crane also recommended that those who do not drive get a kit and take it with them when a passenger of others.
"We're going to make sure all our people we drive have one eventually," she said, of Volunteer Center clients.
Another option available to yellow dot participants is a "Save My Pets!" form that can be mentioned in "other information" in the kits. It alerts responders to the presence of a small bag with information, food and medications for a cherished pet and where it is located.
"Sometimes you can't get someone in an ambulance unless they're taking their pet with them," Crane said.
For more information about Yellow Dot, call 754-1699 or visit www.calaverasvolunteer.com.