Safety initiative announced

Emergency responders are looking for the public to help them save time and lives.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 4, 2014

On Monday, Ottawa County Central Dispatch and area public safety officials announced Smart911 — a service that allows citizens to create a safety profile — is now available in Ottawa County. The free service allows residents to register their phone number, medical information, emergency contacts and other information they would like emergency responders to know.

Residents can sign up for the program by visiting Tim Smith, executive director of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority, said it is a secure website.

The program is also available in Eaton, Grand Traverse and Van Buren counties, as well as 32 states across the country.

Although the service is available in Ottawa County, you do not have be a county resident to register for it. It means dispatchers and emergency responders in the participating counties can access the information.

The county’s public safety millage funds the $45,000-a-year program, said Tom Valdez, deputy director of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority.

Instead of dispatchers asking callers for information that they may not be able to communicate during an emergency, that data could already be collected with Smart911.

“It saves seconds, and seconds mean lives,” Valdez said.

Warren Billett, manager of the North Ottawa Community Health System’s emergency medical service (EMS), said the technology “revolutionizes” the ability for emergency service workers to quickly gain access to “potentially life-impacting information.”

“Information is critical during the first few minutes of an emergency, especially when the patient may not be able to communicate on their own due to the degree of injury or illness, trauma, stroke and cardiac arrest,” he said.

Smith said the Smart911 profile is available to dispatchers and emergency responders in the field when a registered caller contacts 911, and it is available for 45 minutes after the call.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.





Still not sure what to do if your choking. And they keep asking those redundant questions that obviously can't be answered. Why don't they have a choking button you can hold down like the star key.

EMS Manager

zwesterhouse, Excellent question. All calls coming into a 911 call center are required to investigated. Just because there is no one talking on the other end of a phone call coming into 911 dispatch does not mean someone does not need help. Several times a day, officers are dispatched to investigate “hang up” calls or “open line” calls. So, if you are unable to speak, simply leaving the phone (cell phone or landline) connected will prompt the 911 Dispatchers to begin to track you down using whatever means available. With Smart911, even if you cannot speak, 1st responders will know your location, your name, and perhaps even have a photo of you from your Smart911 profile, so dispatch will still be able to send 1st responders to your address. If you have further questions, please contact me at North Ottawa Community Hospital. – Warren Billett


Mr Billett thanks for answering the question truthfully and with great details. What about privacy rules on our medical information being stored in a non medical environment or being reviewed by non medical personnel.

EMS Manager

Another great question! We are all concerned about the potential release of our personal information. On behalf of NOCHS, and I know that OCCDA is obligated as well, we will do our utmost to ensure that ANY information obtained through the use of the Smart 911 system would be considered Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This information would fall under our obligations for maintaining your privacy as prescribed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

As for Smart911, it would be improper for me to answer for them; however, this question is nicely addressed at the following link.

-Warren Billett


The information can only be accessed by first responders and dispatchers and only if you dial 911. It is also up to each resident to choose how much they share. Read more about it.


I signed up for Smart 911 yesterday and completed my profile to the 100% level. It took a little time but was well worth it. This is a great tool. In my case my house is a little hard to find and now they will know exactly where it is and how to get to it...even what color my house is, where the utility shut offs are located, etc.....I was impressed with this. They now know who to contact in case of an emergency. In my case again they have my daughter's phone # and address. They will even know whether or not I have a dog or a cat...pretty cool if you ask me!

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