A new service, provided by local dispatch, is available to Cache Valley residents who find themselves calling 911 with an emergency.
Smart911 is a web-based platform that can save critical time in an emergency when seconds can be the difference between life and death.
The program gives users the option of creating a profile that gives dispatchers additional pieces of information that might be helpful in an emergency.
For example, Shelley Peterson, director of Logan City Police Department Communications Division, said she herself has noted the location of a large propane tank on her property in case there is a fire at her home.
Dispatchers say they received a call from someone last week who noted multiple family members with severe bee allergies. If the 911 caller is having a severe reaction and is unable to speak but can make the call, the dispatcher has this information and can alert medical responders, Peterson said.
“The information is only available when a 911 call is placed. It is not searchable, it is private and secure and it is only used when someone calls 911,” Peterson said.
The program also provides an option to indicate that a member of the household is at risk for domestic violence, and gives dispatchers the option of sending an SMS text message if the 911 call is disconnected.
While this is not a true 911 texting service, it does give the end user a way to communicate even when it is not safe to relay information verbally, Peterson said.
Back when landline telephones were the norm, they provided a valuable link between the person calling 911 with an emergency and the dispatcher sending help — one phone number was connected with a specific street address.
Now, more and more people have eliminated their landline telephones in favor of cell phones, giving people the means to make 911 calls directly from the scene of the emergency anywhere they have a signal.
However, that mobility means there is no telling where the calls will be made or which tower will relay the call or even which dispatch center will receive your call for help.
Now, every person who sets up Smart911 a profile can provide an address, additional household phone numbers, emergency contacts, even the names, ages and descriptions of others in the home.
Profiles might also include a photo of each household member that can be used in a search for victims in an event such as a house fire — if a person wishes to provide that information.
The Logan dispatch center pays $9,000 per year for this program, which is funded by the 911 taxes collected by phone companies.
There is no additional cost to the user, it is simple to navigate, and once it is set up, you simply need to sign in every six months or so, just so dispatchers know they are working with current information. To learn more or to sign up, visit