In an emergency, precious seconds can be the difference between life or death.
With a new 911 system being implemented by the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, first-responders will have access to vital information even before they arrive at a scene. The system, dubbed Smart911, can provide emergency responders with everything down to floor plans, medical conditions and more, as soon as the call is received.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace, along with Dunkirk Police Chief Dave Ortolano, Fredonia Police Chief Brad Meyers and Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services Director Julius Leone, held a news conference Thursday to debut the new system. Smart911 is a service offered by the company Rave Mobile Safety and an extension of the current system that is already in place.
Sheriff Joseph Gerace explained the Smart911 Thursday.
"This system is here to enhance our ability to help people," said Gerace.
Chautauqua County is the first county in New York to implement the Smart911 system, but it is already in place and being used in 20 other states, two of which have the system statewide. A major feature of Smart911 is its transferability. If a registered user is in any other area with a Smart911 system and they are in need of emergency assistance, all of their information will be immediately available to responders in that area as well.
For example, someone registering in Chautauqua County could be in Atlanta, Georgia and an emergency responder would be able to see their Smart911 profile.
Ortolano continued, "This will be a great step forward in public safety."
In order for the system to be effective however, area residents need to input their information on the website, www.smart911.com.
The website, which is extremely user friendly, offers features including Facebook integration to make it easier for users to input their personal data. Users can choose the level of information that they share with Smart911, including personal information, household details, medical information and even special needs, such as disabilities or impairments of household members.
"The website is completely secure," said Gerace. "We had to sign numerous confidentiality agreements as a part of the contract and the only time that we see the information is when an emergency call comes through."
"I think that it's very important that people sign up for this service," said Ortolano. "The system will only be as good as the participation that we get."
One of the largest improvements over the previous system is that Smart911 allows continued tracking of mobile phones even after the call has been terminated. This means that in an emergency situation, if someone were to have their phone call ended abruptly for whatever reason, law enforcement could still track the caller's location. Another extension of the increased mobile phone functionality is the ability to use text messaging to carry on a live conversation with the dispatch center if it is needed.
The system, which was paid for by a grant fund, came at a cost of roughly $18,000 for a three-year contract.
"I believe that the investment was well worth getting into this system." said Gerace, "This is a huge addition for us."