With acts of violence becoming increasingly more familiar, severe weather seasons lasting longer and becoming more ferocious, and communities throughout North America grappling with an ongoing mental health crisis, public safety departments certainly have their hands full. Given the all-hazard roles that first responders and emergency managers play in society today, it is more important than ever to leverage community safety technology and community engagement to better protect our communities.
When an emergency occurs, residents look to 9-1-1 and local emergency services personnel for help. Given the often-chaotic nature of 9-1-1 calls, callers may fail to share critical information about themselves, the location of the emergency, or other important details. Missing information could be as simple as the exact location of the caller to something more serious, such as allergies to medication or a functional need. Compounding things even further is the reality that many communities are struggling to recruit or retain enough call takers to swiftly and thoroughly staff 9-1-1 telecommunications centers. When a 9-1-1 center has access to additional caller data, it can provide faster, more efficient, and more effective dispatch service. Additional 9-1-1 data fills critical gaps and ensures that first responders have the utmost awareness when walking into a situation and are in the best position to save lives.
What is a Safety Profile
The concept of a 9-1-1 safety profile is a simple one. It is a secure tool that allows residents of a community to proactively share information in advance of an emergency. That information is then kept safe and private until they dial 9-1-1. In an emergency and even if the caller is unable to effectively communicate, the safety profile is automatically provided to 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers. Created voluntarily by residents at no cost, safety profiles can share specific information such as emergency contact information, addresses, number of residents and pets in the home, health or rescue needs, vehicle details, and more. As you can imagine, this data helps to inform first responders. For example, if a resident with a completed 9-1-1 safety profile, calls for emergency assistance, the caller’s safety profile is provided automatically, allowing the call-takers to instantly send responders to the right location with the right resources, reducing end-to-end response times—especially for the more challenging scenarios encountered by public safety today.
What are the Benefits?
When adopted, 9-1-1 safety profiles can make for quicker, more informed responses, and that not only benefits the person requesting emergency assistance but the wider community and responders. Safety profile systems, like Smart911, are already being used in communities throughout North America and adding value. Consider these three scenarios:
• Seamless access to a caller’s address and medical notes allowed responders to be dispatched to a location quickly so they could render care to a heart attack victim
• A parent noted in a safety profile that a child with autism lived in the home. When the child was having a mental health crisis; first responders were able to walk into the situation well-prepared
• A person’s photo and physical description were communicated out immediately and successfully to 9-1-1 and first responders when an elderly resident with dementia went missing
Today, without a safety profile, valuable time is lost trying to gather additional details like a photo and physical description of the missing individual. With a safety profile, those details can be provided instantly and automatically with the inbound 9-1-1 call.
This same technology can also give first responders insight into vulnerable populations in their communities, allowing public safety agencies to track trends, and develop strategies to address special considerations or persistent threats. For example, if a caller needs to be evacuated from a home during a hurricane but is elderly and has an oxygen tank, first responders will know that the caller needs special assistance and can arrive with extra oxygen so that the resident safely survives the storm.
Safety profiles can also be integrated with resident alerting platforms, allowing public safety to send targeted messages to residents. Multimodal messages convey the most relevant information in real-time, and result in increased engagement and read rates. The technology also opens the door for two-way messaging which is critical when situations warrant hushed voices or silence due to an impairment or threat nearby.
The peace of mind that safety profiles can bring to residents, their families, first responders, 9-1-1 call dispatchers, and the community is unmatched. Having these profiles in place and encouraging the public to sign up for better safety outcomes benefits responders, and residents, alike.
We all play a role in safety.
The author, Todd Miller, is SVP of Strategic Programs at Rave Mobile Safety.