When John Nash calls 911, dispatchers can see a profile with his contact information.
The Spring Lake Township supervisor is one of more than 5,000 Ottawa County residents who have signed up for Smart911 since it was launched locally in March. The secure online system allows residents to create profiles with their medical and emergency information.
Ottawa County’s public safety millage funds the nearly $45,000-a-year program.
When a registered resident calls 911, dispatchers and emergency responders can see the profile, which is only available for about 45 minutes after the call is placed. Instead of dispatchers asking for the information, it’s readily available when the call is made.
Nash said he doesn’t think people understand the program’s capabilities.
“It could be life-saving,” he said.
Residents can determine how much or how little they want to include in their profile. Information residents can provide includes their home address, work location, medical conditions, emergency contacts and more. Nash said it could also be beneficial to include pictures of children and pets.
While some of Michigan’s counties currently offer Smart911, Nash said he would like to see it available throughout the state.
Nearly 89 percent of the 106,000 calls to Ottawa County’s 911 last year were made from cellphones. During the first two months of this year, 90.9 percent of 911 calls in the county were made from cell phones.
Between 10,000 and 12,000 emergency calls a year in the county are lost because of cellphone connections.
Tim Smith, executive director of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority, said Smart911 is a valuable tool for the dispatchers. Central Dispatch currently receives at least one call each day from a registered resident.
Dispatchers recently received a call from a Grand Valley State University student who lives in Ionia County, but the student’s information came up when she made a call about a traffic complaint, Smith said.
“It is truly portable to any center that has it throughout the U.S.,” he said.
The county health department, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and Central Dispatch are now working to on a back-to-school campaign to promote the program to families. In a few months, Central Dispatch will also work with senior housing locations to sign up residents, Smith said.
While Nash said he believes Smart911 is a great program, he said the one drawback is the 5-10 minutes it takes to complete a profile.
“It’s well worth the time,” he said.
Residents can sign up for the program by visiting www.smart911.com.
Posted on July 30, 2014
By Krystle Wagner