Public Safety dispatchers say they soon will be able to help residents with the Smart911 program.
Through Smart911, people can provide the department with information such as descriptions of their homes and location of rooms; the names and photos of everyone living in the home, including pets; vehicle information; lists of medical issues; and emergency contacts.
The information is stored in the Smart911 database, which allows dispatchers to retrieve it during a 911 call, North Augusta Public Safety Chief John Thomas said Tuesday.
The system cuts down the time dispatchers spend asking questions during a call and allows the information to be shared with first responders immediately.
“It also helps us to respond to those calls with the appropriate equipment,” Thomas said.
Having information readily available can help in missing person cases, he said, citing a recent incident.
“If we had that information up front, that would have saved us a lot of time, and we can begin that process immediately,” Thomas said. “Twelve minutes is a long time for a child to be missing. We fortunately found the child, but if we had that information at our fingertips, then we (are) way ahead of the game.”
Aiken County E911 systems introduced the program in March. The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office was the first to use the program, followed by Aiken, said the county’s E911 Geographic Information System coordinator, Cathy Randall.
The program is also useful outside Aiken County, Thomas said. If someone travels within the U.S. and makes a 911 call, the dispatchers can pull up the caller’s information if that jurisdiction also uses the Smart911 program. Such information can be useful in accidents and medical situations.
Smart911 is supported by existing 911 fees; therefore, there is no charge to sign up. Participation is voluntary.
More than 3,000 people already have registered their information, Randall said.
Residents can sign up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Municipal Building at 100 Georgia Ave. Those who travel to or through the county are also urged to sign up, she said.
North Augusta Public Safety will start using information from Smart911 in about a month after the database is established, Thomas said.
Those who are unable to sign up in person may enroll at www.aikencountysc.gov or visit North Augusta Public Safety on East Buena Vista Avenue. For more information, contact Randall at (803) 642-2054.