Expats help establish Yellow Dot medical alert program in Cuenca

Sep 21, 2018

By Brian Hitsky

It’s just a circle filled with color.

But this yellow dot affixed to your front door can be a life-saving notification tool for first responders coming to aid someone in an emergency.

The Yellow Dot attached to the front door tells first responders to look for attached medical information.

Through the efforts of Cuenca Expat Assist members Deb and Bill Dick, the Yellow Dot Program is being introduced in Cuenca. Expanding on a program in the United States, the Yellow Dot Program is a method of informing emergency services and first responders of pertinent medical and contact information for those participating. Should a person be incapacitated, medical information can be found attached to the back of the resident’s front door or in close proximity to it. The program has the blessing of ECU 9-1-1.

A participant would place a large yellow dot in the upper right corner on the outside of his or her front door, which will indicate to the first responder to look for the medical history document immediately inside. (As an example, a command hook can be attached to the back of the front door, and the medical info/contact sheet could be inserted in a plastic sleeve or envelope to be hung from the hook.)  It is recommended that each resident of the home have his or her own medical sheet.

Bill Dick and his wife Deb worked with local authorities to establish the Yellow Dot program in Cuenca.

“This is a purely voluntary program with no cost to download and print the medical information sheet and the yellow dot,” said Bill Dick, a Cuenca resident since 2012.  “The hope is that people will embrace the importance of providing specific medical and contact information for themselves and first responders.”

The idea for this type of program was first brought up at a Cuenca Expat Assist meeting, where it was recognized that many people in Cuenca live alone.  “If someone falls or has another type of crisis, it’s vital for emergency-service personnel to have access to their medical and contact information,” Bill continued. “Even if there are two people in the home, access to previously filled-out emergency information saves time.”

To determine if the program could be introduced in Cuenca, Bill and a Cuencano friend, Alberto Ordonez, met with ECU 9-1-1 officials to ascertain interest. ECU 9-1-1 is the call center answering emergencies that are then forwarded to either police, fire, ambulance or utility operations. ECU 9-1-1 leadership went to other agencies with the proposal and enthusiastic support for the idea grew.

The medical information form has spaces to list a person’s doctor, blood type, allergies to medications, medical issues, preferred hospital, insurance, contact information on who to notify and other data.

From personal experience, Bill believes that just knowing a person’s blood type can prevent tragedy. “My father was a bomber pilot in WWII who crashed and lost his dog tags,” Bill recalled. “He was rushed to a field hospital but they didn’t know his blood type. They gave him the wrong blood.  He had to be packed in ice and given transfusions, and he ended up losing a leg.”

The hope is that the program is successful in Cuenca, not only in the expat community, but in the Ecuadorian community also.  “In fact, any city in Ecuador with first responders could benefit,” he said.

Cuenca Expat Assist representatives will be at various ferias from time to time passing out yellow dots and medical information sheets. However, to immediately participate in the program, a printable form and yellow dot are available by going to  http://cuencaexpatassist.org/yellow-dot-program/

For those with questions, please contact Bill Dick at mr.bill924@gmail.com or 099 315 1351.

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