The Smart911 program, announced earlier this year and now in full operation, is a national database that allow you to make sure your personal information is available to dispatchers in the event of an emergency.
The next step now is getting more people to sign up, according to Phillip Noel, Director of Bedford County Communications Center.
"It's going great," Noel told the Times-Gazette last week. "It does exactly as advertised. The next step is to educate the citizens about it .... There's not a great deal of folks who have signed up for it yet."
The "Enhanced 9-1-1" system which communications centers have used for decades displays the phone number, name and address for incoming land-line calls to 9-1-1, but that's a limited amount of information -- and in the case of mobile phone 9-1-1 calls, there's even less.
"What citizens may not realize is that we receive very little information on their incoming 9-1-1 call, especially if it is made on a mobile phone," said Noel in a news release last month.
By signing up for a Smart911 profile, citizens can provide more details which will prove useful to emergency response personnel in a crisis, when time is of the essence.
It's free, and completely voluntary. You can create a safety profile by going to www.smart911.com. Profiles, linked to the appropriate phone numbers, can list each family member, including photos, medical information or conditions, disabilities, home details, vehicle information and even the location of pets.
The information is kept confidential and secure; it is hosted by Framingham, Mass.-based Rave Mobile Safety, which operates Smart911. It is displayed to local dispatchers only in case of a 9-1-1 call from one of your registered phone numbers.
The information is also portable; if you travel to another community which subscribes to Smart911, like Nashville or Brentwood, and use your Smart911-registered mobile phone to make a 9-1-1 call, the information displays to dispatchers there just as it would in your home community.
The information contained in a Smart911 profile can be relayed to firefighters, law enforcement or emergency medical personnel in case of an emergency.
For example, medical information like allergies or medications might be of use in case of a medical emergency, or the location of your home's propane tank could be given to firefighters before they even arrive at your home. A photo could assist police with swift response to a child abduction.
Smart911 is now being used by 9-1-1 call centers in more than 300 communities in 23 states.
"By deploying Smart911 and urging citizens to create a Safety Profile, Bedford County is demonstrating their commitment to delivering the most effective emergency services possible to area citizens," said Tom Axbey, president and CEO of Rave Mobile Safety, in a news release.
"Municipalities are realizing how a Safety Profile can dramatically improve emergency outcomes, and as this Smart911 service expands, we can look forward to increased public safety across the state and the country."
The system costs the local com center $13,000 during the first year and $8,000 each during the second and third years of the three-year contract with Rave Mobile Safety.
The money is paid from the local enhanced 911 (E-9-1-1) budget, funded by a surcharge on land line telephone bills and by money allocated by the state from its statewide surcharge on mobile telephone bills.