We live in an era when privacy is difficult to maintain. Even things we want to remain hidden — bank accounts, Social Security numbers, where we store our valuables — are at risk because of emerging technologies and time-tested information-stealing tactics. At times, we even divulge things about ourselves, through social media perhaps, that someone could use for a nefarious reason.
However, sharing some information with the right people can save lives.
Smart911 is a program that allows Arkansans to create a profile that becomes available to emergency dispatchers should they call 911. The profile can include detailed information, such as what types of medications household members may take or where in the house young children may sleep, or simple contact information, such as who to track down in the event of an emergency. The profile does not include anything such as a Social Security number or any financial information.
What you provide in your profile is only accessible if you call 911 and is then only available to emergency dispatch personnel, who have been trained in how to use the information which is only available for the duration of the call. Your information will not be sold or used for any purpose other than responding to an emergency situation.
How might this information be useful? Consider:
- You have a history of heart ailments and are home alone when a sudden heart attack strikes. You call 911 but can’t muster the strength to tell the dispatcher what’s wrong. You drop the phone. If you had created a Smart911 profile that indicated your healthy history, first-responders would know about your heart issues and could prepare for that potential response immediately upon their arrival.
- Your child is in the back yard playing with her cat, which sees a squirrel and runs across the street. You look out into the yard, but the child is gone. No one wants to think about a child abduction, and the chances that it will happen are small, but a Smart911 profile that includes a recent photo of your child would give emergency dispatchers the ability to send that photo to law enforcement agents in seconds.
- You arrive home from the office holiday party. As you pull into the driveway, you see flames peeking out from the den window. You dial 911, but you live in a little valley and your signal is weak. You can’t understand the dispatcher as she says she can’t understand what you are saying. The second floor is on fire now. By attaching your cell phone number to a Smart911 profile, you can give emergency dispatchers another way to identify who you are and where you might be.
In this instance, with a cell call but no other information, an emergency dispatcher could use the Smart911 profile to get a home address and send a first-responder to that location.
It’s easy for those of us who work in the emergency management field to support programs such as Smart911. Technologies available today can save precious time, but technology is useful only if we use it. That’s why we at Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and local emergency managers across the state encourage you to learn more about Smart911 at www.Smart911.com.
Create a profile. Provide as much or as little information as you wish. Know that your information will be secure and that it could save your life or the life of someone you love.