It’s a nightmare scenario: A loved one has been involved in a fatal car crash, but you aren’t alerted until hours later. Law enforcement officers are unable to contact you, and consequently your child, spouse, parent, etc. passes away without you knowing.
This is what happened to Bradenton resident Christine Olson in 2005. Her 22-year-old daughter Tiffiany was in a car crash and suffered fatal injuries. Christine found out about the accident more than six hours after her daughter died.
Christine arrived at the hospital after the morgue had closed. She was handed a bag of her daughter’s belongings and told she would have to come back in the morning. She is haunted by questions of what her daughter’s last moments were like
The creation of TIFF’S Initiative
Tiffiany’s driver’s license did not have a current address. As a result, police had no way to contact her next of kin.
Christine took action to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families. With the assistance of then-State Representative – now Senator – Bill Galvano, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and law enforcement agencies, Christine designed an emergency contact database system in Tiffiany’s memory.
TIFF’s (To Inform Families First) Initiative is a voluntary program and went in to effect in 2006. It is currently available to residents in the states of Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee.
How the program works
Residents of the six states with access to TIFF’s Initiative simply register with the database and enter emergency contact information. The Emergency Contact Information (ECI) program provides contact information to law enforcement officers during critical emergencies. Officers can enter a license number in their system and access emergency contact names and phone numbers.
To register with the database, visit the TIFF website, the Manatee Sheriff Department’s site or the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ site.
For those worried about privacy or abuse of the information, fear not: The information provided is stored in a database accessible only by state law enforcement agencies. Consequently, it is used only in the case of a motorist being seriously injured or killed in an emergency.
Spreading awareness of TIFF’s Initiative
TIFF is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting emergency contact registration awareness.
TIFF is having a fundraiser next month at Diamond Vault in Sarasota. TIFF’s Breakfast at Diamond Vault will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on February 6 at 3979 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL, 34231. Tickets are available for $20, and proceeds from the event will support TIFF’s mission.