February 23, 2012

Manchin Unveils New Legislation to Protect Seniors in Emergency Medical Situations

The National Yellow Dot Act would follow a successful state model of getting information to first responders in the “golden hour,” the first 60 minutes after a serious crash

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today unveiled new legislation that would protect seniors in emergency medical situations – such as car crashes – ensuring that they receive necessary, potentially life-saving treatment as quickly as possible. 

The National Yellow Dot Act would create a voluntary program through which individuals would receive a yellow dot decal to place on the rear windshield of their vehicles. The yellow decal would alert emergency personnel to look for a corresponding yellow folder in the vehicle’s glove compartment. That yellow folder would contain a photograph of the driver, their medical conditions, prescriptions, and other vital information. 

“With our population in West Virginia getting older, one of our highest priorities should be looking for commonsense ways to make sure that our seniors get the care they need,” Senator Manchin said. “It's our job as elected leaders to make sure we're using our resources efficiently and in line with our highest priorities. To me, the Yellow Dot program just makes sense: it won't add anything to our debt and it's already working very well in eight separate states, where first responders can quickly gather potentially life-saving medical information in emergencies. There aren't many better ways to value the lives of our seniors, and I believe this program would work well in West Virginia and across the nation.”

In car crashes and the like, it is especially important for first responders to have the life-saving information they need in what is known as “the golden hour,” or the first 60 minutes after the accident happens. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 32,788 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010. While this Yellow Dot program would be particularly beneficial to seniors that might have preexisting health conditions, it would apply to individuals of all ages. 

The legislation does not authorize any additional federal funding, anticipating that the program coordination would be staffed and paid for with existing resources within the Department of Transportation.

Specifically, the National Yellow Dot Act would: 

  • Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) Administrator to designate a Coordinator of the National Yellow Dot Program within the Department of Transportation to provide information, training and materials for the Yellow Dot Program to state officials. 

  • Require each state that chooses to participate in the Yellow Dot Program to designate a state official to oversee the program; to work with the local law enforcement and emergency services to publicize the program; and to distribute program materials to participants. 

  • Require state officials to submit an annual report to NHTSA to identify the number of program participants.