Ala. county considers 'smart' 911 software

Citizens, at no cost, could set up a personal profile online, and when they dial 911, the dispatcher would see the personal information provided


Michael Wetzel
The Decatur Daily, Ala.

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. — Morgan County 911 is looking into implement software that will help first responders be more informed when they arrive at an emergency.

Morgan 911 Director Jeanie Pharis said citizens, at no cost, could set up a profile at Smart911.com, and when they dial 911, the dispatcher would see the personal information provided.

Information is volunteered by the citizen and can include photos, address, medical conditions, family members, emergency contacts and pets in the house. (Photo/PxHere)
Information is volunteered by the citizen and can include photos, address, medical conditions, family members, emergency contacts and pets in the house. (Photo/PxHere)

She said the information is volunteered by the citizen and can include photos, address, medical conditions, family members, emergency contacts and pets in the house. She said the information would be relayed from the dispatcher to the responders. She presented the proposal to Morgan 911 board members Thursday afternoon.

After the meeting, Tyler Stinson with Lifeguard Ambulance Service said he was encouraged to hear the county might acquire Smart 911 technology.

“It would make our job as responders much more efficient,” he said. “We would know more about the person involved in the incident before we arrive at the scene. It would save time, and it would save lives.”

Pharis said the program, if the board approves it in the fiscal 2020 budget, will cost the local 911 agency $27,000 in the first year and $22,500 in following years. She said she’ll look into acquiring grants and sponsorships to help offset the program’s cost to 911 if it is approved.

Board member Eddie Hicks asked the board to study Smart 911 and other programs before deciding.

“This might be the best choice,” he said. “There are other similar programs we should look at. If you think we’re going to get 54,000 households participate in the Smart 911 system, you’re wrong. Some people will say ‘I don’t want Big Brother knowing too much about me.’ ”

Pharis said 911 employees cannot share information about 911 calls.

“The information on somebody’s profile is voluntary, and it only comes to us. It’s not accessible to anybody but us,” she said. “If an employee discloses any information about a 911 call publicly, it’s a serious violation on the employee’s part. We are a secure facility. Information that comes in here stays here.”

She believes if the Smart 911 program is installed the public response would be good initially.

“The initial push we would get a large percentage to add profiles,” she said. “But updating it maybe not so. We might send out a six-month reminder. But we would ask people to update their profiles when they have changes of location, medical conditions, family members, whatever.”

She said schools and businesses can set up free profiles on Smart 911, too, or they could also subscribe to a Panic Button application for $1,800 a year. She said Panic Button could be used in live shooter, medical and weather-related incidents.

“Businesses and schools could upload their floor plans, exit routes, fire extinguisher locations, after-hour contacts,” Pharis said.

Pharis said the programs are available nationwide. “If you’re in Oklahoma and call 911, your profile will be automatically provided to the dispatchers there, or wherever you are across the nation.”

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©2019 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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