Searcy police first in state to adopt Smart911

By Jeanni Brosius Published April 12, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.
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— Imagine if emergency-services personnel had information - such as photos of and detailed information about the caller’s home, the security pass code, medical information and photos of the residents, their children and pets - at their fingertips prior to coming to an emergency call.

After researching programs for more than a year, Searcy is the first city in Arkansas to implement Smart911, which will provide that information each time a 911 call is placed from designated phone numbers. The intent is to make it easier and more efficient when an ambulance, firetruck or police car is dispatched to a call.

Residents can go to smart911.com and set up a personal profile and include any information with which they are comfortable sharing.

Searcy Police Chief Kyle Osborne said the decision to use the Smart911 system was based on the deaf residents in the Searcy area. Smart911 also has the option for the dispatcher to communicate with the caller via text message for the hearing impaired or those who can’t speak.

“We knew it wasn’t a matter of getting a call from our hard-of-hearing community, but when we were going toget the next call,” said Maj. Tim Webb of the Searcy Police Department. “The Arkansas Association of the Deaf recommended Smart911.”

The dispatcher has the capability to initiate a text conversation if the caller is silent or when a hearing-impaired person indicates on his or her profile at the Smart911 website that a text conversation is required.

Silence on the other end can also indicate that the person may be in a situation where he or she doesn’t want to be heard.

Some of the other benefits to the Smart911 system are that emergency responders will know how many children are in the home, if there is a biting dog and if there are residents with any medical conditions of which the responders should be aware.

“When you call the police, they know you have two children in the house, and their names, and a Germanshepherd that bites,” Osborne said hypothetically about a potential call.

“They’ll know to watch for the biting dog and not to scare the children. … You can even put on there where your spare key is, and other people you want us to contact in the event of an emergency.”

After a call comes in from one of the phone numbers registered on a profile, the information will be available for 45 minutes.

Other than that, Osborne said, no one will have access to it.

Todd Miller, vice president of safety for Smart911, said cities nationwide are participating in the program.

“I have pictures of my children, if they were to go missing, and information about my household and medical information,” Miller said.

Osborne said the system will cost the city about $4,500 each year to maintain, and the information is 100 percent private.

Staff writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

Three Rivers Edition Writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at 501-244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

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