Mobile phones are tasked with communicating many things, from text messages, to tweets, to bank account balances. But a free service called Smart911 enables your smartphone to provide information at a critical time when you may not be able to — when someone calls 911 in an emergency.
The process is simple: users create a safety profile for their household, which is associated with the phone numbers for household members. If anyone dials 911 from one of those numbers, the profile is displayed to 911 personnel, helping to ensure they have vital information that could make the difference between life and death.
It’s particularly important for smartphone users because basic information, like a home address, isn’t available when calling 911 from a mobile phone as it is with a landline. Plus a Smart911 safety profile can include information about blood types, allergies to medications and other key information.
After its introduction almost three years ago, the Smart911 service has been adopted in 33 states and more than 450 municipalities. According to the developer, Rave Mobile Safety, Smart911 has helped in emergency situations across the United States, including a missing child case in Arkansas, victims of heart attack and epilepsy in Tennessee, and more.
"It's not unusual for us to have to begin a call by calming someone down enough so they can tell us where they are and what their emergency is," said Dominique Bonvillain, a dispatcher for the Terrebonne Parish Communications District in Houma, La., which adopted Smart911.
Bonvaillain has firsthand experience with the system. Earlier this year, she received a 911 call from a man’s roommate who found him unconscious but breathing. The roommate didn’t know about his medical history, but the information was available via his Smart911 safety profile since she called from his smartphone.
"The fact that this woman called 911 from her roommate's cell phone, and he had provided us with the information we needed ahead of time, could very well have saved his life,” Bonvillain said. She was able to scan his profile and discovered the patient had diabetes. Upon arrival, the EMS crew was able to begin their assessment by checking his blood sugar level, which was low. Responders were able to treat him and then transport him to the local hospital, where he made a full recovery.
"In a medical emergency, every second can be the difference between life and death," said Mark Boudreaux, director of Terrebonne Parish 911. "The fact that the EMS crew knew where to start with their assessment of the patient puts them steps ahead of where they would have been otherwise. I commend this citizen for taking the time to sign up for Smart911, it had an immense impact on the response we were able to provide to him."
Smart911 users create a safety profile to have their information immediately available to 911. (Source: Rave Mobile Safety)
Edited by Stefania Viscusi