Residents, workers and visitors in the Dublin, Hilliard, Upper Arlington and, soon, Worthington communities will have the opportunity to submit information that can be accessed by 911 dispatchers during emergencies.
Representatives of the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center in Dublin announced Sept. 19 they have subscribed to Smart911, a service that allows residents to create free safety profiles for their households via smart911.com or the Smart911 app.
The public-safety communications center is based in Dublin Police Department headquarters and provides dispatching services for police departments in Dublin, Hilliard and Upper Arlington and fire departments in Norwich and Washington townships and Upper Arlington.
The NRECC will begin dispatching for Worthington in July 2020 after Worthington City Council in May authorized the partnership.
“More than 82% of the 911 calls we receive here at NRECC come from wireless phones,” said Jay Somerville, technical-services bureau director for the communications center.
When that happens, dispatchers can see only a caller’s telephone number and general location, he said.
That’s where the Smart911 service will help by allowing users to create an online safety profile. They could enter as little or as much information as they would like for responders to access when they receive a 911 call, Somerville said.
The information is stored in a national database in private, secure profiles, he said.
Information could include such details as home and work addresses, personal emergency contacts, medical conditions, mobility challenges, pets and vehicles, Somerville said.
“This is really about assisting our first responders,” he said.
The service is available immediately, and residents may add information via smart911.com or the Smart911 app at any time, said Melanie Amato, a Dublin police spokeswoman.
The national database would allow profiles to be accessed when 911 calls are made to dispatching centers in other parts of the country that have the Smart911 software, Amato said.
“So if a child goes missing when you are on vacation, and the area you are vacationing in has the Smart 911 software, then your profile would show up and that dispatcher would know details about the child that you wanted to share,” Amato said.
Hilliard Division of Police Chief Robert Fisher said the Smart911 service will be a “game changer” that will allow emergency personnel to provide more accurate services.
“We’re excited to roll out this new tool in our community,” he said.
The location of bedrooms and gas or electric shut-offs or information about anyone with mobility or special needs issues are “all good information for us to know ahead of time as we make our decisions upon arrival,” said Washington Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Adam Smith.
Upper Arlington Police Division Chief Steve Farmer said the service would help safety personnel be better prepared to serve the public.
“We go into these situations with very little information sometimes,” he said.
Each of the center’s partners will contribute to paying for Smart911 at a cost of $24,000 annually, Somerville said.
Worthington would begin contributing to the Smart911 cost upon joining the partnership, Amato said.
The NRECC is the second primary wireless public-safety answering point – often referred to by its acronym, PSAP – to offer the service in central Ohio, Somerville said.
Grove City implemented the service several years ago, he said.
Kelley Davidson, 911 communications manager for Grove City, said the city has more than 1,800 profiles registered to Smart911.
Emergency personnel have been able to contact family members for subscribers, assist subscribers with special needs, provide first responders with helpful information about medical conditions or medications, check on callers from disconnected 911 calls and a number of other circumstances, she said.
“This has been an important service to offer to our community, and we continue to experience positive outcomes,” Davidson said.
Grove City, the NRECC and facilities in Columbus, Franklin County and Westerville are the five primary PSAPs in Franklin County, said William Griffith, communications-systems manager for the Columbus Department of Public Safety.