New program gives first responders instant information
HONOLULU —In an emergency, seconds count. So imagine picking up the phone and the 911 operator instantly knows all about you, your home and those who live with you.
That could happen under Oahu's new Smart911 program.
Emergency operators will be able to instantly know about medical conditions, disabilities and exactly how to get to your home because people sign up to tell them ahead of time.
In an emergency not only is it important to call 911, but also be able to communicate with operators so the right resources can get to the right location. That doesn't always happen.
"People are extremely excited, they're in a first time emergency situation, sometimes they're unable to focus," said EMS Communications Supervisor Diana Chun.
Information is critical especially during a medical emergency.
"Right now if you call and the line goes dead we don't have a clue to what we're getting into. But if we have Smart911, that can tell us you are diabetic or an epileptic. We have some knowledge going into the situation," said Chun.
In the Smart911program people on Oahu can set up a personal profile tied a phone number. It can contain any amount of information from simply an address, to detailed lists of medical conditions and allergies for those who live there.
"When someone calls their profile pops up automatically," said Acting Major Allan Nagata, with the Honolulu Police Department.
The layout of a home can be detailed, with entry points in case of a fire.
The number of pets can also be given, so first responders know what else to look out for during an emergency.
The profile information can also be used to save time if a young child or elderly family member goes missing.
"If you have that valuable picture already in and you have a missing person case, you can immediately forward the picture to the officer in the field," Nagata said.
The service works for landlines or cellphones.
The profile can also allow those who have trouble communicating by phone other options to get that important information out.
"A child who needs to make that call to 911 -- if they're deaf they can't do it. They need to go through a videophone. This process makes it a lot easier. Kids now know how to text," said Julie Ledgerwood, a vice principal with the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind.
Some residents may worry about the personal data on the profiles, but the company which runs Smart911 stated the database is protected with multiple security features. A spokeswoman also added the private information won't be accessed except in an emergency.
Funding for the first year of Smart911 costs $75,000 and was paid from money set aside for the state's wireless 911 program.