Sep 222012

The new Smart 911 service allows you to provide whatever information you want to the 911 Dispatch service to help them respond to your calls in the future.

A new service – Smart 911 – is slowly rolling out across the nation.  You can join it now and it is free, and hopefully sooner rather than later your local city/county 911 Dispatch Service will sign up for it too.

It works so that when you call in to a participating 911 Dispatch Service from a phone you’ve registered with Smart 911, the operator’s screen will fill with a lot more information about yourself, your residence, your vehicles, your medical conditions, other people living with you, and so on – all information that you’ve previously loaded into the Smart 911 database.

Now, for sure, some of us hesitate before giving any more information about ourselves to ‘The Man’ than we need to, but you can choose what you want them to know and what you’d rather not share, and if you think it is more likely that you’ll be needing help from The Man rather than hiding from him, you’ll find this very useful.

Normally when you call 911, the operator will only see the phone number you’re calling from, the name and address it is registered to, and perhaps some location data about where you currently are (if using a cell phone).  That’s not a lot to go on, and there may well be situations where you can’t conveniently spend five minutes having a relaxed chat with the operator about exactly what your needs are.  In such cases, the data you’ve preloaded into the Smart 911 service could well be a life-saver – it could well be your life-saver.

You can add a lot of information that might make all the difference when fire, paramedics or police are sent to respond to your call for help.  You can include photos of the people who live in your home to aid in identification, and a photo of your house too.

The photos are great.  It can help reduce a problem that few people think about.  When the police respond to a burglary call, they don’t know who the burglars are and who the lawful residents are.  If they respond to other – eg DV – calls, it can be even more confusing as to who should be living in the property and who should not.  By having your pictures already in ‘their’ database, you’ve helped establish your legitimacy, and so when they see you, their fingers will relax a bit and they’ll not be pulling on their triggers quite so anxiously.

We also recommend keeping some family pictures on display somewhere in your home, so you can point to those when the police are trying to work out who the good guys are.  Pictures of the group of you standing in front of your residence are particularly helpful for that type of purpose.

You can also add information about medical conditions to help paramedics know what they might need to prepare for or respond to, information about pets, cars, and all sorts of other information.

I’ve had problems with first responders having difficulty finding my place in the past.  This new service is sure to help.  Best of all it is free.  So go and join now.  It might save a minute or two of confusion, and that might literally mean the difference between life and death – for you and your loved ones.

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