Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

February 28, 2013

Grand Traverse County 911 becoming 'smarter'

TRAVERSE CITY — A new 911 service gives emergency operators and responders more information about 911 callers in Grand Traverse County.

Grand Traverse County is the first county in Michigan to purchase the Smart911 software service, which lets citizens create online profiles that link a wide range of information to their telephone numbers.

A Smart911 profile can be as simple as a caller’s home address, but also can include more detailed information like past medical history, current prescribed medications and emergency contacts.

That information goes directly to dispatchers and emergency responders when they receive a call from a number associated with a Smart911 profile.

Daryl Case, medical director of Blair Township Emergency Medical Services, said Smart911 makes first responders better equipped to help emergency patients who can’t communicate, like unconscious car accident victims or stroke victims who cannot speak.

“Not everybody can talk to us,” Case said, adding, “If you are dealing with someone who is unresponsive, they are probably a more critical patient.”

Smart911 will cost Central Dispatch about $5,000 to install and $14,000 annually to continue the service. Those prices include a 50 percent, first-county discount offered in each state by Smart911’s parent company, Rave Mobile Safety.

Central Dispatch has an annual budget of approximately $1.7 million. Central Dispatch Director Jamel Anderson said dispatch administrators will find areas to trim the budget in order to free money for the annual fee.

“There is just so much potential for this to be helpful,” she said. “It can include someone’s diabetic history, pictures of a caller’s house or vehicle, or contact information.”

Smart911 profiles are private and secure, according to the service’s website and privacy policy. Profiles are shared only with 911 operators and responders.

Rave Mobile Safety did not respond to an interview request.

Grand Traverse County commissioners approved the Smart911 deal during a Public Health and Safety Committee meeting this month.

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