Most of us don’t think about how our families will be reached in the event we are critically or fatally injured in a car crash. In Florida, one mother knows all too well the importance of having a fast and efficient emergency contact process. In 2005, Tiffiany Olson was killed in a motor vehicle accident. Due to the authorities’ inability to access contact information for her next-of-kin, the news of Tiffiany’s passing didn’t reach her mother until many hours later. Christine Olson, Tiffiany’s mother, sought to promote change in the face of tragedy.
Christine Olson helped create Florida’s Emergency Contact Information system (ECI) which was introduced to the public in 2006. Over 10 million people have already securely registered their contact information with the state.
What is the Florida Emergency Contact Information System?
The ECI system consists of an electronic database that contains next-of-kin contact information for residents who have a Florida driver’s license or personal identification card. The Driver and Vehicle Information Database, D.A.V.I.D, can only be accessed by law enforcement officers in an emergency situation. Submitting your next-of-kin contact information to the system is voluntary but approximately 10 million of over 17 million licensed drivers are currently participating in this program.
How to Register with the Florida ECI System?
The current process to register for the Florida Emergency Contact Information system requires you visit the ECI page on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website. You’ll need to enter your Florida Driver License or ID number and your date of birth. While the process only takes a few minutes to complete, there are still over 7 million licensed drivers who are not registered in this system. Just this year though, Christine Olson has succeeded in pushing the House and Senate to pass legislation that would integrate the ECI registration process with that of renewing a vehicle registration or license. While renewing your registration or license is a requirement in every state in order to maintain legal driver privileges and motor vehicle operation, the registration for the ECI system will remain optional.
Has the ECI System Been Successful
You be the judge:
- To date, the Florida ECI system has received over 600,000 pings requesting emergency contact information. It would seem it has helped more than a few families and crash victims in emergency situations over the years.
- In 2008, Florida Governor Christ declared October 2nd to the 8th as “To Inform Families First” week. TIFFs is an ongoing movement that Christine Olson has been involved in to continue bringing awareness to the importance of registering for an ECI system.
- In 2009, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University named the Florida ECI system one of the top 50 best government innovation programs.
- Several other states have adopted an ECI system and several more are in the process of establishing one. One of Christine Olson’s goals is to have an ECI system implemented in every state.
In lieu of National Preparedness Month, it would behoove any licensed driver of a state where an ECI system is active to assure they have registered next-of-kin contact information stored in the case of an emergency. While NPM focuses more on being prepared for natural disasters, registering your contact information with the ECI is another great way to prepare for the unexpected.
We extend our appreciation and praise to Ms. Olson, Manatee County, and Florida Legislature for putting time and effort into creating this system.