In an emergency, minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death.
How fast first responders arrive on the scene of an emergency means more time spent attending to the sick or injured or putting out a fire and less time trying to find the location of the emergency in question. “Anything that saves response time and gives first responders more information could save a life,” said Cherie Moritz, GeoServices manager with Aiken County.
Moritz has been tasked with spreading the word and raising awareness of Smart911, a service free to county residents, which could help shave several critical minutes off response times by providing necessary information such as address, number of family members, elderly family members or family members with specific medical conditions in advance.
“It is a service available to every resident of Aiken County, and it could save your life one day,” Moritz said. With Smart911, information is time, as in saved time. Information such as address, layout of the house, including bedroom location, members of the family and their ages and any pertinent medical information that might be helpful for first responders answering the 911 call. “If there is a fire and you have elderly family members that may be on oxygen, it’s good for first responders to know this as they enter the house,” Moritz said.
When residents access the Smart911 website and enter their family information, they can enter as little or as much information as they feel comfortable with. “Even if it’s just an address, it is information the dispatcher doesn’t have to gather over the phone during a stressful 911 call,” Moritz said. Moritz guaranteed all information is confidential, and it is linked to a person’s cellphone number.
“What Smart911 does is it provides information to 911 dispatch,” Moritz said. “Let’s say you have a fire in your home, and you have to call 911. The house is full of smoke, and you cannot speak. Information about address, how many people live in the home, pets, where the bedrooms are located – ground floor or second floor; whatever information you provide in your profile, helps first responders know what’s in your home.”
Moritz invites Aiken County residents to go online and fill out as much information as they feel comfortable with giving. “The only time 911 dispatchers can see your information is when you call 911, and this information is only available for 45 minutes,” she said. “This is an invaluable tool during an emergency. We need to spread the word.”
Residents who would like to learn more about Smart911 can visit www.smart911.com or those without the Internet can call the Aiken County non-emergency 211 information line to learn more.
“Smart911 is peace of mind for Aiken County residents,” Moritz said. “In the Information Age, information means saving time, and time saved means saving lives.”
Dan Brown is the government reporter for the Aiken Standard.