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The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Stillness in a storm: The patter of many millions of snowflakes filled the quiet Rensselaerville hamlet on Thursday night. Stark lights inside warm homes issuing plumes of smoke from their chimneys cast a glow across the snow-stacked street lined with buried cars and covered railings. The storm caused Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a state of emergency on Jan. 2, closing the state’s main highways. Town government in Guilderland was closed as well, though Rensselaerville remained open and held its re-organizational meeting at 7 p.m. This week, the county sheriff announced a program to help in emergencies; his unit made check-up calls in the Hilltowns this week.

Because of the cold weather, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has created a countywide registry for persons in need.

This program is designed to help people who are physically unable or require assistance to evacuate their homes during an emergency.  All information will be input into the E-911 database for retrieval during disasters.

In addition to evacuation during an emergency, the information will be used for routine distress calls, allowing emergency responders to instantly identify the special needs of callers from their residences.

In situations like this, prior knowledge of the needs of the caller and response time could make a difference for the awareness of the responders during that crucial time, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

“As an example how the registry can be used, we have been experiencing a polar vortex the past few days, extreme cold; because of this, I had my Emergency Management Unit call the people in the registry living in the Hilltowns to make sure they were okay because of the nature of their environment,” Sheriff Craig Apple said in the release.

He encourages those who would require assistance to fill out an application to be included in the Albany County Sheriff’s Office Special Needs Registry.

The registry is voluntary.  All information obtained will be used only for emergency purposes and is strictly confidential.  Forms are available online at  (click on Forms), by calling 720-8030, or by visiting the Albany County Sheriff’s Offices Division of Emergency Management at 58 Verda Ave. in Clarksville.

Yellow Dot program

In addition, the sheriff’s office offers the free Yellow Dot Program, designed to help first responders provide life-saving medical attention during that first “golden hour” after a crash or other emergency.

A Yellow Dot in the driver's-side rear window of a vehicle alerts first responders that vital medical information is stored in the glove compartment.

A Yellow Dot kit can also be used to alert those who respond to an emergency in a home where the resident places a Yellow Dot decal on or beside the front door and places a completed card for each occupant in a clear plastic freezer bag in a visible location in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.

Albany county residents may request a Yellow Dot kit by going online to or by calling 487-5887.