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Smart911 program detailed

Gary Johnson, manager, Marquette County Central Dispatch

MARQUETTE — One never feels truly ready for an emergency situation, but if you are in need of emergency services there are ways to be better prepared.

Smart911 is a program that allows residents to create a safety profile for their household that includes any information they would like emergency responders to be aware of in the event of an emergency. Once a profile is created, that information will be displayed to central dispatch if a 911 call is made, explained Marquette County Central Dispatch Manager Gary Johnson.

“It allows them to put medical histories, medications, how many people live in the house, they can put in floor plans, emergency contact numbers, how many pets they have, a whole lot of information, they can include pictures if they want, include the vehicles that they drive,” Johnson said. “For children they can list themselves as emergency contacts for their children or someone they are caring for, if there’s any special needs, wheelchair-bound people, those types of things. All that information then would instantly display to the dispatchers when someone calls 911 from a registered phone number.”

For dispatchers, information such as what can be included on the profiles and a caller’s location are key to providing emergency services, he said.

“With society moving toward wireless phones and away from landline phones, we’re depending on–a lot of times –the caller to be able to tell us where they’re at. With this registration if someone is unable to tell us where there at or if they are only able to dial and not speak, it gives us a starting point to find those folks,” Johnson said. “Because we do get on a cell phone call, the phone number the person’s calling from and then we do get an approximate GPS location but this additional information can definitely help us get resources out to someone quicker in the event that they’re not able to speak to us or if they have special needs they don’t have to remember to tell us in the call. In a panic, emergency situation that information will be there for the dispatchers.”

Smart911 profiles can provide details that could impact emergency services response time in an emergency situation, which could be the difference between life and death, the Marquette County website states.

“The less time that we have to spend on the phone trying to determine a location or even the nature of the problem that means we can get the appropriate resources started quicker,” Johnson said. “For instance, if we have someone who is not able to speak to us but they have listed potential medical issues that they have that allows us to at least get the ambulance started and give them a potential idea of what’s going on.”

Johnson encouraged all to consider creating a profile.

“None of us plan to have an emergency and a lot of us don’t even know how we’re going to react in the event of an emergency so this profile can help speak for you and allow for us to send the appropriate help quicker,” he said. “It’s a secure database we have no access to until somebody dials 911, so we’re not able to search the database so their information is secure. I think it’s a really good way for us to have information that we need in that emergency and the person doesn’t have to try and remember that stuff in probably the worst time of their lives, when they need to call 911.”

The program also allows citizens to provide information on multiple addresses.

“The other thing that’s important with this program is, you can put in multiple locations, so for instance if you have a cottage or a camp and especially if it’s not an address, which a lot of them aren’t, you can put in GPS locations to that second home or camp, which can make it much easier for us to locate you if you have an emergency there,” Johnson said.

Creating a Smart911 profile typically takes just 15 minutes, depending on how much information a citizen wishes to provide, he added. To make a profile visit smart911.com or download the Smart911 app from any app store for free. Registrants will have a secure login and be asked via email or text to update their profile every six months to make sure the information provided is as current and accurate as possible.

Johnson noted that Smart911 is available throughout the country and can come in handy even when traveling. According to the Smart911 website, the program helps protect over 45 million people nationwide.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.