News : Bridgeport Launches Smarter 9-1-1
Bridgeport, July 2, 2014 -- Hopefully the city's emergency services aren't intimately familiar with you or your home.
However the heads of the police, fire and 911 dispatch said their jobs will be easier if they know more about residents before pulling up to a crisis, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Bridgeport this week launched Smart911, a voluntary initiative that allows households to go online and create computer profiles that provide dispatchers with a variety of details about the buildings and those living inside.
"The fire department is usually at the scene in four minutes," said Fire Chief Brian Rooney, who attended Wednesday's unveiling at the city's Emergency Operations Center. "A lot of times we spend more than a couple minutes asking people questions."
So, for example, residents can provide important details about themselves and loved ones, such as disabilities and drug allergies, information about pets and data emergency responders can use to maneuver through their homes.
Doree Price, director of Bridgeport's 911 call center, said it is better for citizens to provide that information before having to dial those three numbers.
"People are frantic, upset, hysterical -- it's not their best day when they call us in the 911 center," Price said.
Or, as Smart911's slogan says, "Seconds Save Lives. Take seconds now, save seconds later."
The program was first launched in 2008 in Nashville, Tenn.
Jessica Rose, a Smart911 marketing manager, said the system is being used in 35 states and over 1,000 communities, including Newtown, which implemented it in October 2012, just a few months before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that December.
Rose and city officials Wednesday emphasized that all personal data is secure.
She said the company uses "the highest security protocols" and is regularly audited by a third party.
The only time the data can be accessed is when a 911 call is received from any of the phone numbers associated with a household's profile.
"It has to be started by a call from a citizen," Rose said.
So dispatchers cannot simply decide to pull up the information, nor can they change it.
"It's your profile," said Police Chief Joseph Gaudett. "It's not the city's profile."
Smart911 does require the information be updated every six months.
"It may not be for everyone," said Mayor Bill Finch. "We encourage it."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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More Editorial From Smart911
Smart911 is a free service used by public safety agencies across the country to enhance communication and response for their community. It can be used by 9-1-1 agencies to quickly send first responders to the location of an emergency with more information, by emergency management to better plan for and respond to disasters, and by municipalities to send emergency notifications to their citizens.
Published: Monday, July 7, 2014
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