Meet Smart911 - a new system that allows Camden County residents to share vital personal information with first responders before they even call 911 for help in an emergency.
The system, launched Wednesday afternoon, is the first of its kind in New Jersey, according to a county spokesman. Through the Camden County website, residents may now create safety profiles, making health and other information available quickly to dispatchers in the event of an emergency call.
"Your health conditions and allergies are probably the most important information you can put there," said Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the Camden County Department of Public Safety.
Residents may also register photos of themselves, various phone numbers, physical addresses, and the access points to a home or business in the case of an emergency.
Young said Smart911 will help officials shave seconds off their response times and in identifying a subject's location and appearance.
Rob Blaker, the county's public safety director, provided a hypothetical scenario where, he said, Smart911 would come in handy.
"If you have an adult child that has a behavioral disorder and you're having an issue and you call in a domestic incident, the police are going to arrive with information that they wouldn't normally have," Blaker said. "They're going to use their training to defuse the situation and not resort to physical force."
The system is used by more than 350 emergency call centers nationwide, including those in Montgomery and Chester Counties in the Philadelphia suburbs and all of Delaware, Blaker said. Two call centers in Morris County, N.J., are in the process of implementing the system.
Camden County officials started looking into the system after a citizen inquired about Smart911 at a town-hall meeting in Voorhees in March. Young said the system will cost the county about $50,000 a year.
"It's a small investment. If we save a life through this, it's money well spent," Young said.
The new tool is one of two other initiatives the county has recently rolled out to improve public safety. Swift911 launched at the beginning of the year to send county residents emergency alerts via text, voice messaging, and email.
In March, the county implemented a system that allows residents to text-message 911 in the event of an emergency. Blaker estimates the county has received 300 emergency text messages since the service began.
Young and Blaker said information registered under Smart911 is encrypted and is visible to officials only in the event of an emergency call.
"The bottom line is: The more information you put into Smart911, the more helpful it is for first responders," Young said.