New program allows citizens to provide critical information to emergency operators
Every year there are more than 300 million calls made to 911.
But what if you could dial, but couldn’t speak?
Currently, the only information a 9-1-1 operator has is your phone number and possibly your location.And with more than 75 percent of emergency calls coming from cell phones these days local counties are trying to find ways to make their 9-1-1 systems smarter. Thanks to a $43,000 grant from the state of Florida, Lake’s 911 center will soon utilize the Smart911 program. It’s a nationwide database allowing anyone with access to a computer to set up a profile for free.
Think Facebook or LinkedIn, but instead of ‘likes’ and ‘links’ your profile includes lifesaving information.
“There’s medical information that could be allergies, medical information, medicine someone is on,” explained Gregory Holcomb, Lake County’s 911 coordinator. These are some of the critical details about you and your family a dispatcher wouldn’t otherwise have. “It might be a pertinent gate code or a pertinent way to get into the building, or a an animal that may prove a safety concern to first responders,” said Holcomb.
In case of fire, you can upload your home’s building plans giving first responders details about electrical panels, water mains, or fire hydrants. “While they’re responding to the scene additional information from the smart 911 system could be provided to them and relayed to them over the radio system,” said Holcomb.
Smart 911 also allows the user to upload photographs. So in case of an amber alert or missing adult the dispatcher would have immediate access to a picture of that person.
Lake County’s Smart911 system will be up and running in August. Sign up is voluntary, but recommended. Holcomb says there’s no need to be worried about your private information becoming public. The database is not public and no one can search your information.
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