Smart911 gives emergency responders more information

Monday, August 15, 2011 | 7:15 p.m. CDT; updated 2:41 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents can help responders be more prepared to offer assistance as part of a new initiative that allows citizens to provide additional information for emergency situations.

The Columbia and Boone County Public Safety Joint Communications Center on Monday launched Smart911, a program that allows residents to complete an online profile that will give emergency responders more information about the caller's family and home, said Brian Maydwell, a systems support analyst for the Joint Communications Center.

A profile can be as extensive or basic as a person would like. Smart911 asks for family information and photos, pet information, medical history and a household layout. A complete listing of requested profile data is listed on the program's website.

Because 70 percent of emergency calls come from cell phones, emergency responders see only the cell phone number, the tower the cell phone is hitting and occasionally the latitude and longitude of where the call comes from, Maydwell said. However, if a person has completed a Smart911 profile, responders immediately see details such as the caller's name and home phone number, he said.

Columbia purchased a subscription to Smart911 for $20,000 and paid an additional $5,000 for the set-up fee, Maydwell said. This was a 50 percent discount because the city is the first in Missouri to implement the program. The funds came from money left over in the Public Safety Joint Communications Center budget. The goal is to have the money for the system come from the 911 surcharge county fund next year, Maydwell said.

Though nothing is in place yet, Maydwell said the Public Safety Joint Communications Center also has plans to join with agencies such as the Boone County Council on Aging to help residents without Internet access create a profile.

“Ideally, even if it saves only one life, it would be considered a great success,” he said.

Residents can register for Smart911 here.

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