Yellow dot stickers help police aid people in emergencies

  • Police are handing out yellow dot stickers to help people in emergencies
  • The dots alert police to medical conditions
  • It may be a challenge to educate the community about the stickers

AUSTIN, TEXAS – AUGUST 02: A medic loads a woman into an ambulance from EMS Austin – Travis County after she collapsed from the heat while at a bus stop on August 02, 2022 on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. The extended heatwave continues in Texas as daily high temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees for weeks on end. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — A little yellow dot could help save someone’s life.

The sticker placed on a car or home indicates to first responders the person may have a condition, prepping them for the appropriate action in an emergency.

That’s what happened with Melanie Howard, a resident of Dunwoody, Georgia.

In December of 2018, her friends were worried about her. She didn’t show up to a Christmas event, and she didn’t respond to a knock on the door from one of her friends.

Her friends asked police to stop by for a welfare check at her home, to check if she was O.K.

“The officer saw a yellow dot sticker on her vehicle and on her front door,” said Katharine Tate, Property and Evidence Tech at the Dunwoody Police Department.

The officers went to Howard’s vehicle and found that it was unlocked. Inside the glove department, they located a file that explained Howard’s medical condition — she was diabetic.

They went into the apartment and found that Howard was in bed in a diabetic coma. They were able to call an EMT and rescue her.

“That information about her and her medical condition actually gave our officers the exigent circumstances that they need to enter our house to check on her,” said Dunwoody Police Sergeant Michael Cheek. “And without that information, we probably would not have had any type of legal justification to get into her house in a legal way to check on her. So that packet — essentially that packet saved her life by giving us that path to get in there and check on her.”

An example of what’s in a yellow dot kit. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Health.

The police in Dunwoody are one of many that participate in the state’s Yellow Dot Program. The free program allows people who have medical conditions to fill out a medical packet to place in their vehicle or home and then place the sticker in a visible place to alert first responders. They’ve given out around 500 packets.

Over the past few years, numerous states have set up these programs to improve responses to medical emergencies.

When the police in Dunwoody began the program a few years back, they worked hard to educate the community to encourage participation.

“We put it in the paper, we (advertised( on social media, we had the library, the Alzheimer’s Association, a couple churches and retirement communities pretty much put it in their paper,” Tate said.

She acknowledged that it can be difficult to get the yellow dot materials to all community residents.

“I’ve had several people say, ‘I don’t drive, can you bring me a packet?’ and we don’t do that. So either a child, a grandchild, brings them to the station and we can distribute packets that way,” she said, adding that this is one of the reasons why community groups are important to help deliver materials.

As of this writing, more than 20 Georgia counties are working with the state to operate their own yellow dot programs.


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