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Yellow Dot on Car Can Save Your Life

Program ensures emergency personnel have your health information

Joann Kirkham, is an enthusiastic supporter of Tennessees new statewide Yellow Dot program

Joann Kirkham, of Bethpage, is an enthusiastic supporter of Tennessee’s new statewide Yellow Dot program, which alerts emergency personnel to look for the driver’s health documents in a car’s glovebox. — Photo by Tamara Reynolds

Joann Kirkham, 73, was returning to her Bethpage home from the grocery store a few years ago when her car was rear-ended. As the paramedics pulled Kirkham from the vehicle, they peppered her with medical questions.

Distraught, Kirkham thought about her damaged car and the ruined groceries in her trunk but struggled to answer basic medical inquiries.

See also: Should you take a driver safety class?

So when Kirkham heard about a program that would allow emergency personnel to look at medical and personal information that drivers store in their glove boxes, she knew she wanted to get involved.

Kirkham worked with the AARP chapter in the Gallatin area to initiate the Yellow Dot Program in Sumner County in 2008.

Participants fill out a form that asks for vital medical information as well as emergency contacts. The paperwork is placed in their cars' glove boxes, and a yellow dot decal is affixed to the vehicle's rear window to let emergency personnel know to look for the documents in a crisis. The dot goes on the frame of a motorcycle.

"It's like insurance," Kirkham said. "You buy insurance, but you hope you never have to claim it."

Now the program is set to expand statewide.

Under a bill Gov. Bill Haslam (R) signed into law in the spring, the state Department of Transportation is expected to have the forms available as soon as this fall.

State officials plan to promote the free program at driver testing centers and through civic groups.

State Rep. Curtis Halford (R) introduced legislation to take the Yellow Dot Program statewide after his wife read about the program in the AARP Bulletin last summer.

Halford said it was the easiest bill he's ever brought before the legislature. It passed both chambers unanimously.

Next: More than 10,000 yellow dots have been issued in Sumner County alone. » 

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