DuPage's Smart911 could provide extra help in emergency
A new service in DuPage County allows you to register both your land line and cellphone with vital information responders may need in an emergency.
DuPage is the first county in Illinois to offer Smart911 from Rave Mobile Safety.
Since April, roughly 6,000 people have logged on to Smart911.com to create a household profile. Municipalities -- including Bloomingdale, West Chicago, Wheaton and Villa Park -- are encouraging more residents to sign up.
It's up to you what information you want responders to have, such as a photo of your child in case he or she goes missing, details about a family member with autism or hearing loss, or the number of pets in the house.
Smart911 also can help dispatchers locate you if you are calling on a cellphone. Today, 70 percent of 911 calls are made from wireless phones.
"This is our first step toward the next generation of 911 services in DuPage County," said Brian Tegtmeyer, executive director of DU-COMM, which provides fire and police dispatch for most of DuPage.
The DuPage Emergency Telephone System Board paid $145,000 for a year of Smart911. That's about 50 percent lower than the regular cost, and "they gave us a lot of support for free," said Patrick O'Shea, ETSB chairman.
Smart911 registration is free -- and you don't have to live in DuPage.
"If you live in DuPage, work in DuPage, drive through DuPage or any other area in the nation that has this system, the information travels with you," said John Mostaccio, operations manager in charge of public education for DU-COMM.
That means if you are registered and calling from an area with Smart911 service -- whether it's Warrenville or Nashville, Tenn. -- the responders will have your information in seconds.
The information in the Smart911 database only becomes available to a dispatcher when someone calls 911 from a registered phone number. Users will be prompted to update their information every six months, or it drops out of the system.
Examples of other information people may provide include details about family members with severe allergies or medical conditions, whether anyone has a language barrier, and locations for gas and electrical shut-offs in the home.
"If your house address is blocked by big trees, if you happen to have a 100-pound Rottweiler, that's something responders might want to know," Mostaccio said.
If you call 911 on a cellphone, there's no guarantee dispatchers can locate you if you can't speak or the call is dropped. With Smart911, the dispatch center can "rebid" the location for 45 minutes after the call ends.
DuPage ETSB covers most of the county except for a few communities, including Naperville, which has its own ETSB.
"I think Smart911 is a really good idea, but we simply don't have the funds to purchase anything like that at this time," Naperville Police Chief David Dial said.
Mostaccio said DU-COMM representatives will bring laptops to community events this summer to assist people who want to register.