Service gives residents option to provide emergency crews more information

RAVE

The more information emergency personnel have before responding to a 911 call, the better.

That’s why Winona County signed up for a new service that allows residents to create a family profile that gives emergency responders information on medical conditions, contact info, home addresses, pictures of family members and much more. The service — known as Smart911 — makes that information immediately accessible to responders as soon as a someone calls. It allows personnel to be more efficient when responding and allows for better response times. The Winona County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the service Tuesday.

A picture of a family’s children could mean the difference in the case of a missing child, a home address could make sure personnel know where to go if the caller is on a cellphone and can’t talk loud enough to say where he or she is, and knowing medical conditions could mean the difference in getting the right medicine to the caller before it’s too late.

Dispatch Supervisor Mike Peterson — who brought the idea to the county — said when he found out about the service he jumped on the opportunity and not only for the county, but for his family.

“I have a son with special needs,” Peterson said. “He has some pretty serious medical problems. I can have that info in a secure account. If I call 911 … that information can be passed on to 911 personnel.”

He’s already created his account profile, which can be accessed by any emergency department across the country that uses it.

Although the service won’t start until a contract is looked over and in place, Peterson said residents don’t have to wait until then to make a profile for the system — just visit the Smart911 website and get started.

The service costs about $8,000 and will come out of E911 funds, Peterson said, which are collected through a line item on phone bills. Peterson said Winona County will be the first in Minnesota to sign on.

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