Program allows Tempe Police to better prepare for emergencies

By: Skylar Betancourt


In an emergency, time is an essential component of response quality.

During these times, people often are unable to speak or comprehend what is going on.

This affects the quality of 911 calls; Emergency responders are required to act as quickly as possible, and yet, there is much time spent on location tracking.

In order to fill in the gaps and save time, a program called Smart911 is designed to help emergency response services such as the fire department and the police department by supplying them with crucial information unique to each person that has a Smart911 profile.

As of right now, the City of Tempe is the first and only city to support this new system.

Smart911 is a program that offers free personalized profiles for whoever joins.

The individual creating the account may add as much, or as little information about themselves as they choose.

Before the implementation of Smart911, the only information automatically given from a 911 call would be a name, phone number and a street address.

Smart911 gives first responders more crucial information, which is determined by what the owner chooses to share.

The owner can include a picture, phone number, a home address, a code to get onto the premises if it is an apartment or gated community, the number of individuals (including pets) in the home, and whatever else the profile owner deems necessary for dispatch to be aware of.

Additionally, a user has the ability to choose whether or not SMS communication is desirable, so that in the event of an emergency, first responders may communicate via chat and text message to the caller.

“It’s designed to help us help you,” says Patrick Cutts, communication manager of the Tempe Police Department.

“During an emergency, if 911 is contacted through a phone that is linked to a Smart911 profile, all of the given information will be supplied to dispatch, and all necessary accommodations and preparations will be supplied,” Cutts said.

“The information given on the profile is the responsibility of the owner, and it is recommended that all information be updated every six months,” Cutts said.

“All information is confidential, and is only supplied by Smart911 for 45 minutes until the information is taken away from dispatch.”

Tempe Police and Fire departments are the only agencies in Arizona that currently support Smart911. This was made through a grant given by the state to the city, after Tempe Police partnered with the Tempe Fire Department.

“Arizona is currently the lowest 911 tax in the nation at 20 cents,” Cutts said. “Despite how expensive Smart911 was, if it could save even one life, it’s well worth the cost.”

The grant given to the city of Tempe did not affect the city’s budget.

As of right now, 911 dispatch in Tempe has not seen use of Smart911 yet.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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