If you are in an emergency in Florida and can’t talk, there’s still a way for your family and friends to be notified quickly.
An emergency can be a car crash — or a hurricane like Ian.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department has created an emergency online registry so you can input your emergency contact information. Officials are issued reminders as Ian started affecting the state this week.
Floridians, as you shelter in place or conduct final preparations for #Ian, please register/update you Emergency Contact Information (ECI). This can be used by law enforcement to notify loved ones in the event of a life-threatening emergency.
— FLHSMV (@FLHSMV) September 28, 2022
Once you register, law enforcement, using the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ system, can quickly contact the people on your list, even across state lines.
The state’s emergency contact information system was initiated by Christine Olson of Bradenton in memory of her daughter Tiffiany after Tiffiany was involved in a fatal motorcycle crash on U.S. 19 in Palmetto, less than 15 minutes from her home, in December 2005. But with only her driver’s license as a source of information it took over six hours before her mother was notified.
By the time Olson found out what had happened early the next day, she was told her daughter’s body was already at the medical examiner’s office — and the office was closed for the night. She hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye.
“I sat on my sofa with my daughter’s belongings in my lap, and I thought, ‘What just happened?’” she told the Bradenton Herald in 2016.
In 2006, Olson approached and got the support of then Florida State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, to have the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and law enforcement agencies, get on board with TIFF, a voluntary Emergency Contact Information program, that went into effect on Oct. 2, 2006, in Florida.
Along with the support of law enforcement and state Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, who sponsored and passed a bill in the 2015 session that lets employees at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles ask people signing up for a Florida license who they would like as their emergency contact, people can register online and via the site and app Olson had created, www.ToInformFamiliesFirst.org
”The purpose and passion, everything I’m about, is to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen again, so it doesn’t happen to you,” Olson told WFLA News Channel 8 in 2018. “One day I’ll see my daughter again, you know. And I trust in that.
How to sign up
To sign into Florida’s Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles site online visit mydmvportal.flhsmv.gov/home/en/publicweb/ecioutside/ and for To Inform Families First visit toinformfamiliesfirst.org. You can also do so when renewing or getting a Florida driver’s license.
What is the Emergency Contact Information site?
ECI is a secure system that only law enforcement nationwide can access in order to contact designated family or friends in response to an emergency situation, according to the Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Who has access to your information?
Law enforcement agencies have access for the purpose of contacting those you have listed in the event of an emergency. As of July 1, 2022, Florida statutes 394.463 and 397.6772 say “a receiving facility, hospital, or licensed detoxification or addictions receiving facility has access to your emergency contact information for the sole purpose of notifying those you have listed of your whereabouts,” according to Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Will my information be used for any other purpose?
The information provided on these emergency contact forms is only used to notify the designated contacts in the event of an emergency.