Smart911 system goes live
Published 7:58 pm Saturday, June 10, 2017
After months of preparation, Pike County 911’s new Smart911 system is officially live.
The system is a one-stop shop for residents to enter information that could be crucial to first responders in emergency situations.
Sign-up for the service is completely free and voluntary and the amount of information each resident gives, and gets, from the 911 Center is almost entirely up to each person according to 911 director Chris Dozier.
“There’s very little you have to put into it,” Dozier said. “Just your name and address. You can even set up another family member to assist you with the account.”
Although that’s all the information someone has to put into the system, Dozier said the purpose is to give responders an extra advantage by knowing beforehand any special needs people might have.
The amount of information that can be put in is vast. Some examples include a driver’s license number, an emergency PIN to alert dispatchers in emergency situations, height, weight, hair color, eye color, profile picture, pets in the house and all sorts of medical information. A “special notes” section at the bottom ensures anything that hasn’t been covered in all the preset questions, users can fit any other special needs they have, whether it’s a mental illness or a health problem not covered in the prior questioning or dealing with abuse or addiction.
For example, Dozier said that feature could be handy in cases of a missing child.
“Her picture is in the system, so before (responders) ever even get to the house, they’ve got her picture and they can get it out to searchers,” Dozier said.
Another example that EMA Director Jeanna Barnes gave was that of people on dialysis.
“During the winter storms we had a few years ago we had some patients that were on dialysis and they couldn’t get out of their homes,” barnes said. “We actually had to get the National Guard to help get them where they needed to be. With this system, we can see that immediately.”
Although the information is primarily used with the 911 Center, Dozier said EMA also gets access to pertinent information when dealing with natural disasters, evacuations and power outages.
If anyone has reservations about putting such intimate details into the account, Dozier had reassurance for them.
“We can only see that if the number tied to your account calls 911,” Dozier said. “We can’t just go and access that any time.”
Dozier said the system’s voluntary nature and its privacy keeps residents’ information secure and follows all HIPPA laws.
In addition to the information being kept private from 911 until an emergency strikes, Dozier also said it will remain secure from those who don’t need to know the information when the situation does arise.
“The thing to understand is that when it comes into the 911 center, every responder doesn’t automatically have access to it,” Dozier said. “When it comes in, it’s given a ticket number and that’s sent by dispatchers to the responders so they can pull it up. Or the dispatcher may relay information, but nothing sensitive will go over the airwaves.”
Next, the user can choose to opt-in to Rave Alerts, the sister system that is starting up under the Pike County EMA and is being used by various Pike County agencies.
Citizens can already subscribe to weather warnings and watches, traffic alerts, law enforcement alerts, fire alerts, notices from the City of Troy, town of Goshen and the Pike County Commission and more.
Users can further tailor how they want to receive each individual alert. Maybe one user wants to be notified by text, voice call and email for weather warnings but doesn’t want to be notified at all about traffic alerts– that’s up to the user.
Maybe another resident wants only email alerts from the City of Troy and only wants texts about missing persons– that’s also a choice that the user can make.
The system even gives the users options to get their alerts in a number of different languages.
Yet another benefit of the new system is the ability to text 911, although Dozier said that won’t be something people can do 24/7.
“When someone calls us and gets disconnected, one of the things we’ll do is we’ll send a text back,” Dozier said. “Then we can text back and forth until we end that chat session.”
To sign up for the Smart911 program and rave Alerts, simply go to smart911.com or click the “sign up” button on the Pike County 911 or Pike County EMA Facebook page.
Barnes and Dozier also intend to hold registration drives in the upcoming months to get more people into the system and to assist those who might be having trouble signing up themselves. They have not yet set when and where those registration drives will be.