July 09—ATHENS—Almost three years ago, a service was launched in Limestone County that provides medical and other critical information to call takers and emergency responders when 9-1-1 is called.
The service, Smart911, allows Athens and Limestone County residents to sign up and create a profile, then if 9-1-1 is called, the profile information, like medical conditions and history, emergency contacts, even photographs of family members, immediately pops up on a call taker’s screen.
Limestone 911 officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of the free service used only for emergency responses.
“It’s like pre-planning for an emergency,” said Brandon Wallace, the director of Athens-Limestone County 911. “You may never have to use Smart911, but it helps us in responding to an emergency and it could help save your life.” He said 911 personnel are able to share profile information with other emergency responder agencies if needed.
“I would encourage everyone to build a profile for their household or place of business,” Wallace said. “Even a name and phone number can help us a lot if you aren’t able to talk to us” in case of a medical problem, fire or car accident. A profile can be set up at smart911.com.
“The options are limitless” for the amount of information included in a profile, said Taylor Shores, the 911 center’s shift lead. “You can put as much or as little information in a profile as you want.” A homeowner may want to include the location of a basement, storm shelter or bedrooms and the number of people living in the home, she said.
“Every six months, you receive an email (from Smart911) to make sure your information is up-to-date,” Shores said.
Smart911 can be “an asset for elderly people,” Shores said, “and it’s perfect for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.” A family member can set up a profile for someone who’s unable to do that, Wallace said.
Since 86 percent of the county’s 911 calls are wireless, Wallace said, “It’s important for us to have profile information because when you call us on a cellphone, all we get is a phone number and your location.”
As of last week, 1,116 profiles had been created with Limestone County’s Smart911 service, Wallace said, and a single profile can include several family members. Also, profiles have been created for 36 facilities, including schools, businesses, churches and government buildings, he said.
Limestone County is among a growing number of communities offering the Smart911 service, which costs the local 911 operation $9,000 a year.
Smart911 is now being used in 44 states, said Katharine Dahl, marketing director with Rave Mobile Safety, the maker of Smart911, and statewide in Arkansas, Michigan and Delaware.
“We encourage everyone to sign up for Smart911 even if it’s not in your location,” she said, because a profile “travels with you” and will work in supported locations.
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