What information should first responders know if there’s an emergency?
It’s a question that each individual or family can now answer based on their specific needs through the launch of Smart 911 in Arkansas. Arkansas County is expected to have the enhanced public safety and emergency dispatching system by the end of the year.
Presently, dispatchers and first responders can pinpoint a 911 call’s location if it’s made through a landline or locate the call to within 300 yards if it’s made from a cell phone. Stuttgart Assistant Police Chief Steven Bobo said emergency officials are “trained to look around for signs of what is going on without being too intrusive to someone’s privacy.”
With Smart 911, Bobo said emergency officials will be able to perform their job more efficiently and will be better equipped. The system allows residents to create a free SmartSafety profile at smart911.com that includes any information they deem will best help first responders care for them. According to Smart 911, this could include medical information, a house floor plan, a list of family members or directions if the resident lives in an apartment complex.
Residents enter and maintain their own profiles, which makes the information available to 911 dispatchers if the residents call from a phone number they registered on the profile. Bobo said it would be nice to know the contact information for people not responsive and the medical history information they normally would not know at first when responding to a call.
Bobo said the information will only be used for emergency response. According to the Senate, the information is only accessible when residents call 911 from a registered phone and it is only available for 45 minutes after the call is made.
However, the system is only effective if people sign up. To create a Smart 911 profile, go to www.smart911.com. In the past, about 25 percent of the population in cities with Smart 911 available has signed up within two years.
Arkansas is the first state in the nation to make the technology available statewide. The state legislature’s Act 213 was approved earlier this year making $1 million available to implement the program through Rave Mobile Safety of Framingham, Mass.
Evilee Ebb, Rave Mobility Safety’s director of marketing, said the program would work with the county’s present 911 system. It is being rolled out across the state with the first seven to 10 groups receiving installation now. Installation is expected to be completed statewide by the end of the year.
Arkansas County Judge Glenn “Sonny” Cox and 911 Coordinator Nan Davenport have both said they are waiting for more information about what to expect and when the system will be installed locally.
According to the Arkansas Senate, continuing costs are estimated to be $400,000 to $600,000 per year. A June 8 Senate review cited Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, as saying he expected the legislature to continue funding Smart 911 because it would save lives. Baker is the Senate chairman of the Joint Budget Committee.