August 10, 2016

"Smart 911" -- Signing Up Is a Smart Move

Today I received an email from my Palisades Village with the August newsletter. It included information about “Smart 911,” which I’d never heard of before. It sounds like a great idea, and I just spent about half an hour signing up and entering my personal data.

I've placed 911 calls several times in the past few years. This new service will give 911 responders instant access to my medical information. During an emergency, it might be difficult – or impossible -- to provide that important information.

Our community newsletter described the service – and the sign-up process – very clearly, so I'll just reproduce it here.

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Smart 911 is a free service that allows a participant to create a safety profile that will be provided to 911 responders in the event of an emergency. A call to 911 from any of the phone numbers listed on the safety profile will automatically display the safety profile information to the 911 call taker. Smart 911 allows safety profiles to be created for all the individuals associated with the phone numbers listed on the profile. This system can be invaluable in an emergency by giving emergency responders instant access to medical and safety information.

To sign up for Smart 911, go to Signing up is relatively straight forward; if computers are alien terrritory, enlist a computer literate friend to help you with the process (there is no option for signing up by telephone). The online system will ask you to input your name, email, user ID, password, phone number(s), and address. You must verify your phone number by following the instructions on the screen; once you click on the verification "button," you will get an almost instantaneous call back on your phone, and will have to press "1" to complete the verification process.

For cell phones, Smart911 prefers that you request a text message; this message will provide a four digit code that you will have to input into the computer to complete the verification process. The system allows you to include both home and mobile phones on your profile; each phone will have to be verified separately.

Once you have created an account, sign in to Smart 911 with your user ID and password to input information into your safety profile (the sign in button is at the upper right on the screen). I strongly recommend that you record your user ID (typically your e-mail address) and password in multiple easily accessible locations, e.g., near your phone and computer. Smart911 does provide information for how to proceed if you have forgotten your user ID and/or password; we all, however, have experienced the annoyance of having to deal with the forgotten password situation.

There are six categories for which you can provide information: people/household, addresses, phones, emergency contacts, vehicles, and animals. To the right of each of these listed categories is a green "add button," which will bring up a screen allowing you to add information. Under the people/household category are options, for each listed individual, to edit the basic information (name, e-mail, date of birth, gender, and photo) and to edit details and medical information. The details and medical information category requests the driver's license number, physical information (hair color, eye color, weight, height, and blood type), and medical information. Included in the medical information list are allergies, breathing problems, cancer, catheters and feeding tubes, general medical conditions, heart disease, implanted medical devices, medical therapies and equipment, mobility limitations, neurological, behavorial and cognitive conditions, organ transplants, powered medical devices, prescription medications, sensory impairment, and other medical information (contact lenses, organ donor status, and advance directive status). For each of the other five categories, there are options for editing below the listed information.

The information on your safety profile will be available to 911 call takers only when someone uses your phone to call 911. Smart 911 does not sell or share the information that you provide. You have the option to share your profile with emergency managers as they prepare for, or respond to, an emergency. Smart 911 is a nationwide system, although not available in all municipalities. Thus, if you are traveling in the United States, and call 911 from a registered mobile phone in an area that has Smart 911, your safety profile will be available to the emergency responders.

Smart 911 recommends that you update your safety profile every 6 months. Your Smart 911 safety profile will only be active and available to emergency responders for 6 months, unless you keep your profile active by logging into your account with your user ID and password. To ensure that your account remains active, it is advisable to mark your calendar with an update reminder every few months. If you wish to cancel your participation in Smart911, you can log into your safety profile, and simply click on "remove account."

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