Hancock County to get new program for 911 center

Henry County has installed a new 911 system. (WISH photo)

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – New technology is being used in several 911 dispatch centers across our area, and some say it could help save lives. It is a program called Smart 911.

This program helps dispatchers relay critical information to first responders. It allows people to create a personal profile that will be attached to their cell or home phone number. Dispatchers will only be able to see that profile when they call 911.

In the case of an emergency, every second counts. The sooner dispatchers know where you are, the sooner they can send help, but sometimes getting an exact location can be tough. It is especially difficult now that more than 80 percent of 911 calls in Hancock County come in through cell phones.

“When someone calls 911 from a cell phone, we get a latitude and longitude and a phone number,” said John Jokantas, 911 director in Hancock County.

According to Jokantas, those coordinates aren’t always accurate. That is just one reason several counties are now turning to programs like Smart 911.

“Smart 911 is a secondary form of info that we will start to receive when someone calls 911,” said Jokantas.

People can go online and create a user profile for their phone number, listing as little or as much information as they want.

The system has space for you to put things like your address, directions, pre-existing medical conditions, and photos or information about children and pets.

“If you’re prepared for an emergency it helps us to assist you within that emergency,” said Jokantas.

The program can be especially helpful if someone calls 911 but can’t talk to or hear the dispatcher.

According to Jokantas, county commissioners support the program. Smart 911 will cost Hancock County about $16,000 per year.

“If we can save one person from this over the next few years, it is worth it,” said Jokantas.

Boone County already uses Smart 911. Hancock County will begin the program in May.

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