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Turning Tragedy into a Cause Saving Others from Her Grief

| Angela Naff |

Imagine the worst moment of your life for a second. It immediately materializes in your mind as clear as if it just occurred when you read that sentence, doesn’t it? The emotions a bit less jagged, but the scenes, smells, and details sharp as ever. How did you cope with the situation and move through your grief? Christine Olson can tell you her worst moment, as it played out on December 7, 2005. That was the night that her 22-year-old daughter Tiffiany Olson died in a tragic accident. The details of that night, as poignant and clear for her today when she tells the story as it was that night fifteen years ago. The events of that fateful night would shape her life mission to make sure her story does not become yours.

Grief turns to TIFF

That night you see, it took nearly six hours for law enforcement to notify her of the horrific news of Tiffiany’s passing. Over six hours of confusion for her and her family, as they went to a hospital-based on misinformation, hoping to find a banged-up but alive child. The final blow would come at the hand of law enforcement over six hours later with the words, “she’s gone.”

Of course, grief and recovery is a process, but then a moment comes when the question of what else could have been done arises. That question would start Christine on a path toward helping others with her initiative to ensure that the next time a person faces an emergency situation, six hours would never pass before they were notified. TIFF (To Inform Families First) was born of the premise of strengthening communication between emergency first responders and loved ones in times of critical situations.

Emergency Contact Information Program in Florida

On October 2, 2006, a voluntary Emergency Contact Information (ECI) program was launched through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles with support from Florida State Representative Bill Galvano. This became the first baby step on a long, arduous journey. ECI, as it is referred to here in Florida, allows you to designate exactly who you want to be contacted in time of emergency, and this is tied directly to your driver’s license, permit, or state-issued ID.

The initiative allows individuals to register a point of contact should something happen to them, a simple idea in theory with many moving parts to make a reality. Through dedicated lobbying on behalf of her daughter’s memory, fifteen states are now using this system as their resource for notifying families in times of emergency. Over 18 million in Florida alone are registered with these possible lifesaving services. Christine says this work is not done, though, until every state has such a program or process to ensure timely notifications of loved ones, and no one has to suffer through six hours of not knowing again during a time of crisis.

Today TIFF, To Inform Families First, is a fully registered nonprofit carrying on advocacy and education to states who have not implemented this critical program with their local Motor Vehicles Department. Through donations of time, advocacy, and of course, registering for this service yourself, you make change happen.

Check out the various ways to learn more about this organization:


Photos Courtesy of TIFF To Inform Families First website

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