The Missing Piece in Public Safety
Smart911 is a national database providing 9-1-1 call takers and first responders with supplemental critical-care and rescue information that may be useful during an emergency. These additional details, offered voluntarily by residents, are entered on the Smart911 website in the form of a Safety Profile. If a person in distress contacts 9-1-1 from a registered phone — either a land line or a cell — and the Smart911 service has been installed in that area, his or her Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the nearest 9-1-1 dispatcher. (See Smart911.com)
Smart911 is being introduced nationwide. It is now present in 41 states and more than 1,500 communities – including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Nashville, Charleston, Honolulu, Long Island, Alexandria, VA and Washington, D.C.
How Will This Initiative Help Protect Older Adults and People With Disabilities?
A Smart911 Safety Profile must first be created. This is a display of key facts which, if known to members of an emergency response team, allows them to address the specific needs of an individual or a family. It usually includes personal medical information, but it is also capable of electronically distributing photographs of family members missing from their homes.
Smart911 gathers vital information without relying solely on verbal communications. Data is obtained before an emergency takes place. The service is provided by Rave Mobile Safety, founded in 2004 and headquartered in Framingham, MA.
Who Could Benefit?
• Senior Adults
• Caregivers of the Elderly
• People With Physical Disabilities
• Persons With Mental/Cognitive Conditions
• Families Having Children with Autism
• Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
• Visually-Impaired Individuals
• Individuals Suffering from Allergies
• Persons Who Require Life-Sustaining Equipment
• People Suffering From Chronic Medical Conditions or Disorders
• Non-English speakers
Seniors and Elderly Care.
A senior adult living alone can list medications, health conditions, and emergency contacts in her Smart911 Safety Profile. This will assist first responders if she calls
9-1-1. Those caring for a loved one can also create a Safety Profile for that individual. If the caretaker is absent, she will have peace of mind that her family member will face less exposure to risk if anything should happen.
A person’s name, physical description, photograph, and medical data can be entered in his Smart 911 Safety Profile. In the event that he calls 9-1-1 and cannot remember specific information, the 9-1-1 call taker will have it readily available. If he wanders from home and a listed caretaker contacts 9-1-1, the missing person’s picture will be displayed to responders in the field, thus assisting a search.
An individual with diabetes can experience rapid changes in insulin levels. He may be able to dial 9-1-1 but not effectively communicate the nature of his emergency. However,
if he has previously noted his condition within his Smart911 Safety Profile, it will allow call takers to dispatch an appropriate response team. It will also give responders a better understanding of his situation as they arrive on the scene.
If someone is allergic, a notification can be placed in his Smart911 Safety Profile. If he then calls 9-1-1 and is unable to speak, 9-1-1 will have important background information readily available. If the individual becomes unconscious, responders will be aware of medications he is sensitive to and will avoid using them during rescue.
Some individuals cannot easily evacuate their homes in an emergency.
If 9-1-1 has been previously made aware of this, rescuers will make it a priority to seek out and assist these persons. If special equipment is needed, responders will arrive with that equipment, saving precious time.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
An individual who cannot easily communicate may enter this fact in her Profile. That way, 9-1-1 will be alerted to her condition and will understand that the caller is actually a person in need. Without Smart911, the dispatcher may think that he has only received a dropped or “open air” call and would not provide assistance.
Responding to this person may require specific actions, depending on the situation. Has the individual wandered? Is he in the midst of a medical or behavioral emergency? The precise nature of his condition can be provided beforehand. If a person dials
9-1-1 but does not have the ability to clearly relay specific information — such as his name, address or details of his emergency – that data can easily be stored in Smart911.
If evacuation is required, responders need to know important details such as the number of residents, if anyone has a mobility limitation, where bedrooms are, how to access your residence, and whether pets are present. Photographs of family members on your Smart911 Safety Profile can confirm who is being rescued. Other details that may be included are gate codes and the location of gas shut-off valves.
Vocal cues must be used in this instance. If the person is in her own home, the layout and bedroom locations can be provided beforehand. The presence of a service animal that needs to accompany her can also be noted.
Most automobile accidents are reported by cell phone. Response can be much quicker if 9-1-1 knows the make, model, and color of a car as well as one’s location. When photographs of family members have been entered beforehand in a Smart911 Profile, responders can more easily identify individuals. This is particularly important if anyone is unconscious or unable to communicate.
Every second counts when a child is missing. By providing a photo and physical description, Smart911 can forward these vital details to responders in the field immediately upon receiving a call. A search can begin within minutes.
Child Reporting A Home Accident.
While you can never predict an accident, you can also never predict who will actually be calling 9-1-1. If your child is making the call, she may be asked questions she is unable to answer. This problem can be solved by entering the necessary details about you and your home ahead of time. Relying on your child is no longer necessary. Your Smart911 Profile will provide the information needed.
1. How can I control who sees my Smart 911 information?
Your Safety Profile will only be displayed to a 9-1-1 call taker if you place a 9-1-1 call from a phone confirmed with your account, and the 9-1-1 center receiving your call participates in the Smart911 program. You are in full control of the information you enter and the phone numbers you choose to associate with your Safety Profile.
2. Is my information kept private?
Yes. Information is made available ONLY to 9-1-1 call takers and responders and ONLY in the event you call 9-1-1. In some areas, you can choose to allow Smart911 to share your profile with Emergency Managers as they prepare for and respond to emergencies.
3. Is my information secure?
The program employs the highest standards in physical and computer security technologies and conducts regular audits to ensure that all information held in Smart911 is kept private. It will only be made available to 9-1-1 and emergency responders who are planning for emergencies. Smart911 is secured and powered by Norton and VeriSign.
4. Will Smart911 sell my e-mail address or spam me?
No. Smart911 will not sell your e-mail address to any person or company. It will only use your e-mail address when notifying you that it is time to update or verify your Safety Profile. Smart911 is funded by communities, not through advertising.
5. Does Smart911 sell subscriber data?
No. It does not sell or share any information from a Safety Profile to third parties or marketing organizations. Your information is always locked in secure facilities until it is delivered to participating 9-1-1 centers when you dial 9-1-1.
6. Can 9-1-1 operators access my Smart911 information even if I do not call 9-1-1?
No. Information is only made available to 9-1-1 call takers when you dial 9-1-1 from a phone that has been verified from your Safety Profile.
7. Who enters and maintains my Smart911 information?
You do. Smart911 users decide what they want to include in their Safety Profile. This allows them to protect their family in the way that best meets their needs. You may change, add, and remove items whenever you choose to do so. However, it is your responsibility to keep the information up-to-date.
8. Why do I have to update or confirm my Smart911 information every 6 months?
It is important that emergency responders have current data. That way, they can provide the fastest and most accurate response. Outdated information can direct responders to a wrong address or supply incorrect details about the person in need.
9. How long will my information remain available to Smart911?
It will remain until you delete your account. However, your Safety Profile is only active and available to 9-1-1 for six months after you log in to your account. If you have not logged in to your account for six months, your Smart911 Safety Profile will be suspended and no information will be delivered to 9-1-1. (You will be reminded, close to the expiration date, to update or confirm your personal information.)
Cell phones account for more than 70% of emergency calls in northern Virginia. When dialing from a landline, your specific location is identified by the address connected with your phone number. However, when you call from a mobile phone, the call taker can see your incoming phone number but can only estimate your location to within 50 meters, expressed as a latitude and longitude. This can be a problem in our densely-populated suburbs with its multi-storied buildings.
Adoption of Smart911 would bring greater peace of mind to older adults and those with special needs. First responders would not only be better informed of exact locations but also have greater knowledge of specific types of situations they were about to encounter.
Many at-risk individuals now wear medical bracelets and pendants or place the paper “pocket file of life” on their refrigerators, hoping their rescuers might see them. The additional safety net provided by Smart911 and its 21st century technology could be the difference between a needless tragedy and a life-saving 9-1-1 response for this vulnerable group of people.
To learn more about Smart911, please contact:
Fairfax Area Commission on Aging firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfax Area Disability Services Board (703) 913-7559