Elmore County became the first in the state to launch an upgraded 911 service that puts more time—critical information in the hands of emergency responders.
Known as the Smart911 system,it takes the county’s enhanced 911 service a step further by delivering insights about callers “that we usually only uncover upon arriving at an emergency,” said Traci Lefever, 911 coordinator with the county sheriffs department.
In comparison, the county’s enhanced 911 service was pretty much limited to a person’s name and address with cell phone users capable of transmitting their exact location using satellite—based technology.
Strictly a voluntary initiative, people begin the process by building a proﬁle online at www.Smart911.com. They then furnish information they want paramedics, firefighters and police officers to know when they respond to an emergency.
“The person entering this information has control on what’s listed,” said Kayla Parsons, who manages the county dispatch center. “They can put in as much or as little information as they would like.”
“You can include your current health condition, a picture of your house, information on where your water and power shutoffs are located and more,” said Sheriff Rick Layher.
“If you have infants… you can put that their bedroom is located on the north side of the house or the second door down the hallway,” Lefever added. “The firemen will know the person in that particular room can’t help themselves and will focus their efforts to get there.”
The same is true for elderly people or those confined to a wheelchair, Lefever added. “It gives us more information than what we would normally have available.”
For parents with young children, Smart911 allows them to include up—to—date photos of their youngsters, which becomes vital during a missing child incident, according to Senator Mike Crapo. Whether it’s an abduction or runaway situation, those first few hours following a child’s disappearance are critical to find them safely, said Crapo, a founding member of the Senate Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.
Currently, parents need to find a current photo of their missing child, which is then sent to the police department where an electronic copy is disseminated to officers.
This process can sometimes take hours, Lefever said. With Smart911, that photo is immediately available to dispatchers.
Smart911 has other benefits. People can update their proﬁle as often as they want to ensure their data remains current. In fact, the company that built the system makes it a point to ensure clients check their proﬁle at least twice a year.
A demonstration on Smart911 during the National Emergency Member Association conference this summer set plans in motion to get the system up and running here.
“I saw a demo at that conference on that technology, and when I got back, we set up demos here,” Lefever said. Officials representing various emergency response agencies in Elmore County saw those additional demonstrations and liked what they saw.
The system came online here Nov. 18 with dispatchers here receiving additional training on how the system works and how they can use it effectively. In time, this system will offer better protection to those living here, Lefever said.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve efficiencies and 911 emergency response,” Lefever added. “Smart911 was an obvious choice.”
Addressing concerns with computer-based technology, Lefever highlighted the safeguards built into the system. For example, people must use a phone number they include with their Smart9ll proﬁle for dispatchers to gain access to this personal data.
“Not even the police can draw that information out of the system,” Layher added. It’s strictly limited to registered 911 dispatch centers.
In addition to Elmore County, “Smart911’s adoption is rapidly growing throughout municipalities and through citizen registrations,” said Tom Axbey, president and CEO of Rave Mobile Safety, which developed the system. Other communities already using Smart9ll include Nashville, Tenn; Lexington, Ky.; and Atlanta, Ga.
When people register, their information goes with them when they travel, according to Layher. For example, a family traveling from Florida may experience an emergency while they travel through Elmore County. With the Smart911 system, the information they posted from home will appear in the dispatch center here, giving emergency crews specific information on everything from their medical histories to a list of their known allergies before the first police car or ambulance arrives on scene.
“This is going to be a really good thing for people,” Layher said.
Hoping to spread the word across the county, representatives with the local dispatch center plan to reach out to people in the local area in coming weeks during visits to local craft bazaars.
In addition, officials will visit senior centers across the county over the next four weeks to help senior citizens enroll in the Smart911 program. Visits are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 13 at the center in Pine/Featherville, 10a.m. Dec. 14 at the Mountain Home Senior Center and 11:30 a.m. Jan. 5 at the center in Glenns Ferry.