Calcasieu officials unveil national program for emergency services

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu is the first parish in the

state to offer a national online emergency service that lets residents

provide specific

information to first responders so they can better assist people

during emergency situations like a house fire or an abducted

child.

Local officials on Thursday unveiled Smart911, a free and secure program that allows residents to create a safety profile

that details information about a home, children living at the home, vehicles and even pets. People can create a profile by

visiting www.smart911.com.

Robert Martin, executive director for

the Calcasieu Public Safety Communications District, or E-911, said that

during an emergency,

911 call responders are given a code to access the specific

information listed online by the caller. That information is provided

to emergency responders or law enforcement to assist them when

they arrive at the scene of the emergency.

Martin said the service is “vital for

families” because responders can know specifics before arriving at the

scene of an emergency,

including how many rooms are in a home, where those rooms are

located, and the names and contact information of the people

who live there.

“This is going to bridge the gap that we have between this generation of 911 to the next generation of 911, which is five

to seven years in the future,” he said.

Martin said E-911 has been using the

911-Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) for nearly a decade. It

provides first responders

with information about people with special needs. However, the

program was limited to landlines.

“Now everybody has a cell phone, and some families have three, four or five (phones),” Martin said.

More than 70 percent of 911 calls in

Calcasieu come from mobile phones, Martin said. But he said responders

are sometimes

unable to track the exact location of a call. Martin said the

Smart 911 service allows people to provide cell phone numbers

for each family member, making them easier to track.

If a child is reported missing, Martin said responders can use the service to find a photo posted of the child, and release

the photo quickly.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said the department supports the program because it reduces the response time and could save

lives.

“The more information we have at our

disposal, and as quick as we can get it, makes it that much better to

respond in an efficient

way,” he said.

There are 31 states using Smart911 and 350 municipalities that offer the program. Other jurisdictions that have the service

can access emergency information for Calcasieu residents if an emergency occurs outside the parish, Martin said.

Smart 911 was created three years ago by the Massachusetts-based Rave Mobile Safety.