Chesco officials tout benefits of Smart911

Chester County officials are applauding the debut of Smart911,  a new emergency preparedness program.

Presentation of Smart911 service to Chester County Commissioners

Chester County Department of Emergency Services Director Robert J. Kagel (from left), introduces Smart911to Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, Michelle Kichline, and Kathi Cozzone.

Robert J. Kagel, Chester County’s director of the Department of Emergency Services, introduced the free service at the Chester County Commissioners’ Sunshine meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Smart911 allows individuals and families to create a safety profile online that provides key information to Chester County’s 911 Center. Chester County is the first county in southeastern Pennsylvania to provide this service, according to a county press release.

Kagel said the system is secure and private and enables residents to control what information they want 911 and first-responders to have in an emergency situation. The safety profile enables faster and more effective emergency response by law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services.

Noting the benefits of Smart911, Chester County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Michelle Kichline said in the release: “The Smart911 platform provides tools that save critical time in an emergency, when mere seconds can make a big difference. The additional information helps the 911 call-takers know exact locations and what assistance is needed, often at a time when the person calling 911 may not be able to communicate those details.”

Safety profiles can be created at Residents can customize their profile and share any information they want the 911 call-taker and response teams to have in the event of an emergency. The information is seen only when the resident dials 911, automatically displaying so that the 911 call-taker can send the right response team to the right address with the right information.

“Chester County has made some major investments in recent years to keep our residents safe. Our new emergency radio system reaches every corner of the county, the public safety training campus keeps our first-responders up-to-date on effective rescue procedures, and now Smart911 will help to speed up response time to an emergency,” Commissioner Kathi Cozzone said in the release.

Smart911 also benefits Chester County’s text-to-911 service, explained Commissioner Terence Farrell in the release.

“The message ‘call if you can, text if you must’ still stands,” said Farrell. “But if the person texting has created a Smart911 safety profile, then a lot of information will be available to the 911 operator engaged in the emergency text messaging that can expedite the process of dispatching the appropriate first-responders.”

With Smart911, county residents can link both home and work addresses to mobile phones, which can be passed on to responders in the field for a more detailed, rapid response. Additional information, including pets in the home, vehicle details in the event of an accident, and emergency contacts can all be included in the safety profile. All information is optional, and anyone registering can choose what information he or she wants to include, the release said.

“The benefits of this information on a 911 call from a cell phone number are immeasurable,” said Kagel in the release. “Mobile phones do not provide an address to the 911 call-taker. These emergency situations are often the worst moments in a person’s life, so with Smart911, having the additional information immediately at hand can ‘speak’ for that person, potentially saving their life.

“Smart911 also allows residents to share information on specific needs such as disabilities and special medical condition, and we will be working with partner organizations like senior centers, autism organizations, Alzheimer’s associations and non-profits that work with the blind and the deaf communities, to encourage setting up safety profiles,” added Kagel.

Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. It has been credited with positively impacting numerous emergency outcomes, such as a missing girl whose photo and physical description were immediately available, as well as a heart attack victim whose address and medical notes allowed the right responders to be dispatched to his location.

Once a Smart911 profile is created, it can appear in any 911 center throughout the nation that uses the system. So if a resident of Chester County is involved in an emergency situation in another municipality that uses Smart911, the safety profile information will appear on the 911 call-taker’s screen when the emergency call is made, the release said.

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