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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – A new safety initiative goes on-line in Limestone County. Smart 9-1-1 is designed to get critical information to responders as quickly as you call for help.

((sound of phone ringing))

“911, what’s the location of the emergency?”

Just that fast, and emergency dispatchers have critical information right at their fingertips. Limestone County’s new Smart 9-1-1 service allows residents to customize the information that will show up on the dispatcher’s screen.

(r.v. white, limestone county 911 22-27)

“So instead of having to try to answer questions in a very stressful situation, that information will be available to us immediately as soon as we answer the phone,” says Limestone County 911 Director R.V. White during a news conference Friday.

Information like how many people live in the house, their medical history, even how many and what kinds of pets you may have. If you have a fire or medical emergency, this is the type of information that can speed the help you might need as well as prepare the responders to better help you.

(chief tony kirk, athens fire department 50-55)

“If the patient has a cardiac history, if they have asthma, an unconscious patient, if we pull up there and we know that this patient has diabetic issues, that’s the first thing we can check,” says Athens Fire Chief Tony Kirk.  He says the new system has the potential to save many lives.

The program is especially useful for those with special needs, according to Harriett Hollingsworth who is deaf and relies on sign language to communicate.

“I want to encourage everyone who is deaf and hard of hearing to please fill out a profile for Smart 9-1-1. Put your information on this profile at the website, Smart 911-dot-com. I’m encouraging everyone to do that,” Hollingsworth says.

Smart 9-1-1 is a free service, and participation is strictly voluntary. You only need to give the information you think will help responders to better help you in an emergency. To register, go to SMART 911 and click on the “Sign Up” tab on the right side of the screen. The site will guide you through a series of panels to add relative information about yourself, other members of your family, special needs and medical history, even your pets. You can even upload photos of yourself and children which would be useful if someone comes up missing.

Smart 911 will send you an email once every six months to ask if any of your stored information needs to be updated. White says not even the 911 dispatchers have access to your personal information until you dial 9-1-1 from either your home or cell phone.