Smart911 provides dispatchers with critical information before an emergency occurs
Posted on: 6:17 p.m. CDT, September 30, 2013 By: Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter
The city is implementing a Smart911 system, which allows emergency dispatchers to access information about topics such as allergies, medication and disabilities.
"It provides crucial pre-arrival information for our first responders so … it will shave time off getting the services people need," said Linda LaCloche, communications manager for the city.
Signing up for the service is free and users can control how much information they provide including their address, medical conditions, pets, vehicles, languages spoken, photos and more.
Naperville, which fields about 51,000 calls to 911 each year, recently signed a five-year, $155,000 contract with Rave Mobile Safety for the service, which is now in about 400 communities in 35 states, according to Todd Miller, vice president of public safety services at the Massachusetts-based company.
In addition to the benefits of emergency responders knowing about medical conditions in advance, Miller said logging photos into the system can shave hours off the process of finding a missing child.
Registering an address with a mobile number also might help rescue workers find someone more quickly. Roughly 70 percent of 911 calls now come from mobile phones, which aren't as precise in relaying a person's locations as people see in the movies, Miller said.
DuPage County became the first entity in Illinois to start using the system in late 2011 and now has roughly 24,000 registered users, according to Linda Zerwin, executive director of the Emergency Telephone System Board of DuPage. In the third quarter alone this year, more than 900 profiles were displayed with 911 calls in DuPage.
Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, which helps people with disabilities, has been an advocate of the system.
Sherry Manschot, marketing/PR manager for the group, said letting emergency responders know ahead of time someone in a household is deaf or autistic, for instance, will change how a rescue worker handles the situation.
"Any time you've got someone with disability or any special need responders need to know about this is the best way to get it to them so they have the information at their fingertips," she said.
People don't have to live in Naperville or DuPage County to register. For those who do sign up, their information will be available to any of the communities around the country using Smart911 in the event they are traveling and have an emergency.
Sign up is now available and Naperville dispatchers will be able to start using the information in emergency calls later this fall.
To register for Smart911 visit https://www.smart911.com.