CASA GRANDE — The city’s first responders may soon have access to valuable information that could improve how they respond to emergency situations.
Smart911 is a brand of communication technology that stores an individual’s personal information such as medical history and makes it available to emergency dispatchers and responders.
It works by getting citizens to voluntarily create a Smart911 profile, allowing them to list as much personal information as they want to disclose. This profile will pop up on a local dispatcher’s computer screen when the registered user calls 911.
Mike Brashier, the city’s communications manager, said access to this type of personal information allows paramedics, police officers and firefighters to make more informed decisions out in the field. He said while pitching Smart911 to the Casa Grande City Council on Monday night that it could reduce response times.
The council unanimously approved spending $32,000 on a three-year contract to use Smart911. Before voting, some council members had questions involving the logistics of how the software works.
Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked whether this personal information of residents would be kept confidential. Brashier said a resident’s profile only becomes accessible to dispatchers when the resident calls 911 and the profile remains open for about 45 minutes before going back into the Smart911 database.
Councilman Matt Herman asked how the city could keep track of the number of residents creating Smart911 profiles, as he wouldn’t want the city to invest in a program that gets little use.
Each municipality that uses Smart911 in the United States can count the number of users it services through local ZIP codes, according to Michele Nelson, regional sales manager of Rave Mobile Safety, the company that sells Smart911. She estimated at least 12 million Americans have so far registered with Smart911.
Since creating a Smart911 profile is voluntary, some council members wondered how the city would convince residents to participate in the program.
Nelson said Rave Mobile Safety will be assisting the city in organizing public outreach events and social media campaigns. Mayor Bob Jackson indicated he hopes the city periodically updates the council on how many residents are using Smart911.
Tempe was the first municipality in Arizona to use Smart911 in 2014. Eloy and Paradise Valley are other communities that have since adopted the program.
The Casa Grande Fire Department is already able receive information in “real time” while responding to a call, according to Battalion Chief Frank Ricci. Currently, city dispatchers ask a series of questions to 9-1-1 callers and that information is logged and instantly sent to first responders as they head out to a site.
Information can continue to be updated by dispatchers while firefighters are en route, Ricci said. But having access to additional background information on a person or place would be beneficial for everyone, he added. The idea is that Smart911 would streamline this question-and-answer process between 9-1-1 callers and dispatchers.
Aside from basic medical history, Smart911 users can also post pictures of family members on their profile in case someone goes missing and describe the physical layouts of their homes.
Users can also mention whether English is not their primary language on their profile and list family members or friends who should be contacted in times of an emergency.
More information on the program is available at smart911.com.
By KEVIN REAGAN Staff Writer