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When Autauga County Extension Coordinator Yvonne Thomas first received a call about the Department of Economic and Community Development Affairs/Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Division bringing the Yellow Dot Program to Alabama, it stirred in her a strong desire to get Autauga countians and others signed up for the program. The Autauga County Extension office was one of the first Yellow Dot sign-up locations in the state.

The program is a safety initiative that uses a yellow decal on vehicles to let first responders quickly identify any medical conditions of the driver in an emergency situation.

"This has been my vision for two years, and it's exciting to see it become a reality," said Thomas. We've worked faithfully with the superintendent and members of the Autauga County School Transportation Department to get the proper approvals and to organize the training.

On Aug. 5, about 150 Autauga County School System bus drivers signed up for Yellow Dot, a free program that provides potentially life-saving information to first responders in the event of a vehicle crash.

The drivers signed up for the Yellow Dot program as part of a back-to-school event at the Autauga County Extension office in Autaugaville. The drivers had their photographs taken and completed a personal form with emergency contact and medical information. The decal is placed above the driver-side window inside the bus, and a packet of medical information is placed behind the driver's seat.

"We're happy to partner with Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, our local Extension office, the County and City to provide Yellow Dot for our bus drivers," said Superintendent Spence Agree "this is phase one of the program."

As I look around the room and see the bus driver's positive responses, it's been worth every minute that we've invested in planning today's enrollment event. "If we save one life through our work today, we have made a tremendous difference in Autauga County," stated Thomas.

To date Yellow Dot officials have focused on the importance of this life-saving information in personal vehicles, but this is the first example of the program's use in work vehicles. They also hope the participation of bus drivers encourages Autauga County teachers and parents to participate in the program.

Lora Weaver, Yellow Dot coordinator for the State of Alabama, thanked Thomas for her work getting the Autauga County School System to embrace the program. "Because of your efforts, we may begin seeing Yellow Dots on all school buses throughout the state."

Joe Lightsey, director of Pupil Transportation for the Alabama Department of Education, is also excited about the Autauga County School System placing yellow dots on their buses, and is encouraging other school systems throughout the state to follow their lead.

Yellow Dot has steadily expanded in Alabama since starting in 2009. The program is now available in 66 of Alabama's 67 counties and is expected to be implemented in all counties by this fall. A grant from the ADECA supports Yellow Dot. A grant from Mid-South RC&D Council provided the Autauga County brochures and support for billboards.

For more information on the Yellow Dot Program go to: www.facebook.com/AlabamaYellowDot.

Autauga County Superintendent Spence Agee