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Kent County introduces Smart911


Kent County dispatch is offering a new, free service allowing residents to create personal and household profiles. Its information first responders say is crucial in an emergency situation. The Kent County Dispatch Authority explains how Smart911 improves response time and saves lives. Information is power.

In the case of Smart911, information can save lives. Here’s how it works. Kent County residents can log on at Smart911.com filling out an individual or household profile. A secure place where the county explains you can “store your address, photos, detailed medical information, vehicle descriptions and other information that can be critical during an emergency situation.”

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma explains it’s particularly helpful if you’re calling from a cell phone. “Mobile phones don’t always give a precise location so having that cell phone registered to a specific address is very, very helpful.”

“Annually, each of our 911 centers answer approximately 140,000 911 calls. That’s about 16 per hour per center" explains Curtis Holt, chair of the Kent County Dispatch Authority. He tells us year to date, 81 percent of total 911 calls answered came in from cell phones. Locating the origin of the call is hit or miss. It can be as accurate as within a few feet of the phone or as far away as a mile or more.

But Smart911 is not simply a cell phone locator, all phones are created equal as are most emergency situations. “It’s often the case that when callers call us they find themselves in tense panicky situations and they tend to forget details.” Karen Chadwick is with the Grand Rapids 911 Center. “The information provided in a Smart911 profile can help overcome that difficulty that we have and will make it a less stressful experience for the caller.”

The information is stored in a confidential data base only available to dispatchers.

Currently, Smart911 is available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.