DODGE COUNTY, Wisc., (SPECTRUM NEWS) - Another Wisconsin county is joining a program that helps dispatchers respond faster to emergencies.
It may be surprising to know that if you call 911 from a cell phone, dispatchers don’t get a specific location.
“Sometimes it might show up with a name, but that’s really all the information we get outside of the number itself,” says Dodge County sheriff Dale Schmidt.
That’s why Dodge County is rolling out Smart911 for its residents. It’s a program people can sign up for, and enter personal information. That information can then pop up when the connected phone number calls 911.
“If somebody calls 911 and they’re not able to speak, or if they text us at 911 and not able to speak and not able to give us information, by having Smart911 and having your information already there on the app, it provides that information to dispatchers very quickly so that we can dispatch people to you right away,” says Schmidt.
Use of the site can help dispatchers know where to send first responders.
“We’ll get a 911 call and there are 10 or 15 houses in that area, and we have to check all the houses to find out is there an emergency,” says Schmidt. “And if we know there’s an emergency, where are you?”
The information is only available to law enforcement and first responders when you call 911, and they lose access to it after 45 minutes. It’s used in large cities all over the country, including Denver, Baltimore and Chicago.
Users can add all kinds of information that could come in handy in an emergency. You can include the people in your household, their ages, their phone numbers and all cars and addresses associated with your family. Users can even add emergency contacts.
“I have my wife and my two children listed along with their ages and some basic information,” says Schmidt. “In the event that my wife tries to call 911 and they can’t get a hold of her, dispatch can then look at my phone numbers and call me to say, 'Is everything okay?' And I can also assist in checking.”
Even furry members of the family can be part of the profile.
“Everybody’s very passionate about their animals,” says Schmidt. “We have five animals at our house: Two dogs and three cats. I have all five of them entered in here so that if we have a fire at our house, the fire department shows up, they know. Dispatch can let them know, 'Hey there’s five animals that are at this location. We wanna make sure that they’re all taken care of and not inside that home.'”
Schmidt says when you’re calling 911, saving just a few seconds could make a huge difference.
“Really can be beneficial, save you and your loved ones time when you’re calling things in,” Schmidt says. “And could save your lives.”
Right now, Dodge and Eau Claire Counties are the only two who participate in Smart911 in Wisconsin. Schmidt wants more counties to get on board.
People in Dodge and Eau Claire Counties can sign up for Smart911 in just a few minutes. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play store, or residents can visit Smart911 here.