"Smart911" service enhances safety in Forrest County

"Smart911" service enhances safety in Forrest County

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - When a "Smart911" user calls 911, the dispatcher on the other end of the phone is able to know information about the caller that could save a life or lead to better response time.

That's because the online profile service allows citizens to create profiles with personal information, such as the layout of a house, including its picture, or medication or limitations, even pictures and descriptions of pets in a household.

Forrest County is the first place in Mississippi to provide this free service to its residents, and officials hope it will enhance their safety services.

"It's so that we can know what we're going to," said Hattiesburg Police Department's Lieutenant Jon Traxler. "What precautions there may be at that residence or with that vehicle," he said of specific information including in a profile.

The profile, which is created on this site, allows users to connect their mobile or land phone lines, so that when a 911 call is placed, the profile automatically appears to the dispatcher. As much or as little information will be provided, depending on how the user dictates the profile settings.

There is even a text message capability, if communication is limited due to physical limitations, poor cell service, or a hostage situation. The dispatcher will send messages directly to the user's phone, and the user can respond to provide the dispatcher with information to assist in emergency response.

"I think it gives us better response time, better knowledge of our citizens and how to help them better," explained Traxler.

Although Forrest County is the only county in the state currently participating in the service, profiles can be used in other parts of the country, if a 911 call is made from a different location. All of Arkansas is partnered with Smart911, according to Traxler, and the service is found in 38 other states. If a user is in the Pine Belt area but outside of Forrest County, AAA Ambulance Service can still utilize the Smart911 information if the user is in its district, according to AAA's Andy Geske.

Hattiesburg and Petal Police Departments, Forrest County Sheriff Department, Wesley Medical Center, Forrest General Hospital, AAA Ambulance Service and Forrest County Emergency Operations Center have all joined this Smart911 partnership.