“Pre-plan your emergency:” dispatchers urge you to get Smart911

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - No one wants to think of that moment they'll need to call 911, whether for themselves or a loved one.

But Smart911, a free program, gives Limestone County first responders information that could make a difference.

"We look at Smart911 as a way to pre-plan your emergency," said Athens-Limestone County 911 Director Brandon Wallace.

"When you call 911, it pops up with the safety profile you've created with your name and home address," explained Shift Lead Taylor Shores.

It's customizable to your needs: you can enter as much or as little as you wish, including home/work address, pictures/ages of everyone in your household, the layout of the house (in case of a fire), the gas cut-off, the closest fire hydrant, emergency contacts, your car description, and medical history.

It cuts down on questions that need to be asked in the face of an emergency.

It's particularly helpful for emergencies involving elderly people with memory issues, dementia, or Alzheimer's. It's also helpful for anyone with severe allergies or any other medical condition.

"If we know you have a heart condition, you have an allergy, you've had a stroke before, if you can enter any of that information, it can help save your life," explained Wallace.

Before you worry about the privacy of your information, rest easy: they only see it when you need them to.

"We can't access these profiles at random, we're only able to access when someone associated with the profile calls 911," said Shores.

After a certain time, their access expires. They only share it with the necessary first responders.

Athens-Limestone 911 offers Smart911 to Limestone County residents for free, with over 1,000 homes in the county with an active profile. August 2017 will mark three years of its implementation there.

Plus your information travels with you, and comes up if you ever call 911 in the hundreds of cities that use it nationwide.

It also has a text option, so if you're in a situation where you cannot talk, 911 dispatchers can get details from you in messages that come to your phone like a normal text message. They always encourage you to call 911 in an emergency though, even if you can't speak, so they can get a cell phone ping on your location.

Register for your Smart911 profile here.