When a call is made to 911, little information is known until the person making the call takes the precious seconds to tell the operator.
In an emergency, seconds count. A free public service called Smart911 can save seconds, and even minutes, when an emergency occurs.
Sarah Hoban, marketing coordinator for the Smart911 program in DuPage County, said even less information is available when a call comes from a cell phone.
Approximately 73% of 911 calls come from mobile phones – but a cellular telephone’s exact location can’t always be determined by GPS from a cell tower. Smart911 displays the listed address of the mobile phone in the profile and can track the call via GPS, even if the call is disconnected.
Smart911 users register a home address to all phones used by the residents of a particular home. But an address is just the beginning of the information that can be included in a Smart911 profile. Users also can enter information about each member of the household, their medical conditions and needs, allergies and medications. Including photos of pets, children and adults with dementia can help emergency responders identify them in case they become lost or missing.
The profile can include information about where bedrooms are located and how emergency responders can enter the home using a keypad code, or the location of a hidden key. The secure system ensures that this information is known only to first responders in the case of an emergency.
If the Smart911 user is in their car, a description and license number, including as part of their profile, will make it easier for first responders to spot them using standard tracing technology.
Users are free to enter as much or as little information as they choose.
Hoban said Smart 911 is good for everyone, but it can be especially important to seniors, who often live alone and have medical conditions that first responders should be aware of. With Smart911, paramedics know before they arrive the caller’s medications and medical conditions, including drug allergies, physical limitations or mental disabilities.
The service is free, but Hoban said just 3.7 percent of the residents of DuPage County have signed up since the service was first offered in 2011. As of Jan. 1, 2016, the service also is available to Cook County residents.
To register in either county, visit smart911.com. Registration is free but requires an email address. Older adults without access to the internet can have a loved one help them with registration. The few minutes it takes to sign up could save vital seconds in the case of an emergency.