Officials: Connect through Smart911

2013-07-04T00:00:00Z Officials: Connect through Smart911Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Just last month, a Portage woman dialed 911 from her cellphone.

She couldn't speak to tell dispatchers who she was or what was wrong. The line seemed to go dead.

Dispatchers at the Porter County Central Communications 911 Center worked hard to track back the phone call, reaching out to the cellphone provider to find the woman.

Police arrived at the home about 10 minutes after the initial call. The woman had died from cardiac arrest.

Assistant Fire Chief Joe Calhoun isn't sure, but, he said, had the woman been registered with the county through the Smart911 system, first responders may have been able to get there soon and she may have survived.

Porter County Central Communications has used Smart911 for about two years, Executive Assistant Judy Gehrels said, but it is being under-used by county residents.

The service, which costs $28,000 per year, allows residents to register on line to provide information to central dispatch. They can link their land or cellphone lines so that if a call comes from their telephones, a screen pops up for the dispatcher providing information.

That information, Gehrels said, can be as simple as an address. It can, however, be as detailed as desired, including outlining every family member, including pets; any medical conditions or other information to make it easier for first responders to provide assistance.

"It is an amazing service. It can really make a difference in safety in Porter County," Gehrels said, adding it is offered at no cost to residents.

Information provided by residents is private and secure. It is only accessible by dispatchers when a phone call comes into the 911 center. Dispatchers then pass that information on to first responders.

The county and Portage are pushing registration on the website. They will be handing out information during today's Fourth of July Parade. Representatives will also be signing up people during the Porter County Fair, Gehrels said.

For more information, or to register, visit the website at www.Smart911.com.

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