GREENFIELD — John Jokantas remembers the call clearly.
The woman on the other end of the line had dialed 911 was frantic; her husband, she thought, was having a heart attack. But in her panic, she rattled off the wrong address, sending medics about four miles away from the man who needed their help, he said.
Now, local leaders are pushing county residents to take advantage of a new program that will help prevent mix-ups like that from happening. By creating a free online profile ahead of time, cellphone callers who dial 911 can automatically give dispatchers access to their address and other personal information that could help in an emergency.
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The program, called Smart911, links each user’s profile to both the landline and cellphone numbers they’ll most likely use in an emergency. If the user calls 911, their profile immediately pops up on a dispatcher’s computer screen, allowing them to relay any pre-provided information, helping to ensure first-responders are headed the right way and armed with important details.
Smart911 requires each user to list their email address, telephone number and home address when creating a profile. From there, users can chose to add the names, ages and photographs of anyone living there, as well as each person’s medical information. Property information can be included as well, such as details about the house, including nearby fire hydrants; details about utilities and a landlord’s contact information; vehicle information; and the names and descriptions of any pets.
Each profile is private and remains locked until the user calls 911; dispatchers can access the user’s personal information only when the person dials 911, officials said.
Jokantas, the director of Hancock County’s 911 dispatch center, was working as a dispatcher in Carmel at the time he took the call from the panicked wife looking for help for her husband.
The couple was living in an apartment about four blocks away from their home while the place was being remodeled, he later learned. The medics who responded rolled up to a construction site, no patient to be found, he said. He can only wonder if the man lived or died once first-responders made it to his side.
Today, if the couple had a Smart911 profile, Jokantas said he would have quickly noticed the discrepancy in the address and asked the woman more specifically about her location.
Smart911 becomes available to Hancock County dispatchers in May, but residents can start creating profiles now, Jokantas said. The system will send email alerts to users regularly reminding them to visit their profiles and update their information.
Business owners, too, can create secure profiles about their facilities using a program created by the same company called Rave Facility, which allows business owners to provide the same detailed information about their company, Jokantas said.
Smart911 officially went live in 2011 with the goal of giving first-responders the tools to “prepare better, respond faster and communicate more effectively during emergencies,” Todd Piett, a spokesman for the company, said in an email to the Daily Reporter.
Now, the program is available in 37 states and more than 1,000 municipalities across the country, according to the company’s website. Eight counties in Indiana currently utilize the program — Boone and Morgan counties are the two closest to Hancock — and a handful of others are looking to implement the program in the coming months.
Some 15 percent of emergency calls in the United States are aided by Smart911 technology, Piett said.
Because profiles are often tied to cellphone numbers, a person’s profile will follow them as they travel and will pop up in any county dispatch center in any state that has a Smart911 subscription, Jokantas said.
First-responders say they are eager for the program to go live.
Police and fire crews face a lot of unknowns when en route to an emergency call, Greenfield Fire Territory Chief James Roberts said. Smart911 will allow dispatchers to relay important information about patients or locations, he said.
It will help first-responders be more prepared than ever before, he said.
“Any bit of information we can get beforehand is huge,” Roberts said.