Safety profile app, Smart911, usage rises

In the past four years, since the Decatur Fire Department has implemented Smart911, an app that creates a safety profile for citizens, usage numbers have risen to 30 percent as well as people that are aware of the program, according to Decatur Fire Chief Toni Washington. 

Washington, as the Decatur Fire Chief, oversees the various functions the department has. “We have operations, those are people that respond to fires, emergency medical calls, they do all the community events,” she said. “We have a section called fire prevention, and that’s our public education program where we educate people on how to be safe and keep their homes safe. That program also handles inspections of buildings to make sure they are fire safe.”

Smart911 is designed to provide safety information to responders when someone calls 911 due to an emergency. This can only occur if a citizen has registered a safety profile in the Smart911 system. When they have a profile their information immediately pops up and can be extremely helpful to the responders.

Washington feels that Smart911 has been a beneficial tool to help both the firefighters as first responders and the citizens that they have to respond to.

“It’s definitely been an advancement in safety because in some of our emergency medical calls we go to people that have had heart attacks or can’t talk to us and give us information we need,” she said. “So this provides us with firsthand information that allows us to know about the person that we’re going to treat.”

Washington and the firefighters pay special attention to listings of possible allergies and medications in the safety profile.

“[This] will immediately pop up so we as emergency providers will know
not to give them anything that will react with their current medications or be able to provide that information to the hospital they may travel to,” she said.

In addition to this information, the profile gives a section for the purpose of detailing where a spare key is hidden.

“If I have a key hidden under my flower pot, the safety profile allows us to know where that key is and go get that key so we don’t have to kick your door down and have an extra expense,” Washington said.

The safety profile also gives the firefighters greater knowledge of necessary equipment they need to bring into a building.

“[Smart911 makes it so that] we don’t have to run back out to the vehicle because we didn’t bring the heart monitor or we weren’t sure what type of call this was. We have a lot of equipment and it’s impossible to carry all of our equipment into all the homes we go to,” Washington said. “Since this advancement gives us an idea of some of the things a patient might be dealing with, we know a little bit of what to expect when we go to the house.”

The Smart911 software is applicable when traveling to another city in the United States. Therefore if you have an emergency there, and already have a safety profile set up through Smart911, it will appear to responders in a city that uses Smart911.

Washington believes Decatur has had the success they have with Smart911 due to firefighters advocating for registrations in the community. They advocate for the program through neighborhood meetings or community events and are constantly getting more people to sign up.

“We do things a little differently in Decatur and we take pride in that. What we do that a lot of other communities don’t is we have some of the firefighters go out with their iPads and sign people up,” she said.

Out of all of Decatur, almost one-third of residents are registered with Smart911, which means good things in accordance with the program.

“We’re constantly advertising or promoting the software because we think that it’s a very good tool, that not only helps us but also helps our stakeholders,” Washington said.


Contact the writer, Alexis Siegler, at [email protected]