Proponents of Luzerne County's 911 emergency phone service urge people who live and work in the county to participate in a program that provides helpful and potentially life-saving information to emergency responders.
The program, called Smart911, allows people to enter details into a database about themselves, family members, pets, their properties and vehicles that will pop up on dispatchers' screens if a 911 call comes in from their cellphones or home phones. They can make it as detailed as they'd like to, said county 911 quality assurance supervisor Angela Manganello.
There's an added bonus for participating now: For each new safety profile created before the end of the year, Smart 911 will donate $1 of its money to a support fund for victims of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. There will be no cost to the county or individual.
The county started offering Smart911 in September 2011. The number of enrollments in the county to date was not available Wednesday.
The program, purchased from the Framingham, Mass.-based Rave Mobile Safety Inc., will cost $415,000 over five years and is funded by a fee on landline phones that must be spent on 911 enhancements. County 911 Data/Technical Support Manager Fred Rosencrans pushed for the program because dispatchers typically know only names and addresses when calls come in, and even that information might be inaccurate for cellphone numbers.
About 474,500 calls were processed by the county 911 this year to date – 57 percent, or 270,465, from cellphones, officials say.
Among the information accepted by Smart911:
• Exterior visual descriptions and the location of gas valves and electrical panels for commercial and residential structures.
• Primary and secondary languages, blood types, allergies, medical conditions and medications of household members.
• Vehicle descriptions that might help locate traveling cellphone callers.
An online link to sign up for Smart911 is posted at www.luzernecounty911.com. If you need assistance or clarification, contact 911 quality assurance supervisor Angela Manganello at 826-3071.