Cole County launches interactive 911 program

11 months 6 days 23 hours ago Tuesday, August 06 2019 Aug 6, 2019 Tuesday, August 06, 2019 12:21:00 PM CDT August 06, 2019 in News
By: Nathalie Jones, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY - Residents of Cole County now have a way to provide more information to first responders before an emergency happens.

The app, Smart911, allows people to create a "safety profile," so when they call 911 their information will be readily available to emergency services.

According to an April report from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, 70 percent of 911 calls are made from a cell phone. The report said counties often can't locate calls made from cell phones because of the cost involved.

Bill Farr, the Emergency Management Director for Cole County, said this program will help those odds.

"You might be calling on the very edge of Cole County. Well, you're going to hit the closest 911 center. So you may be talking to Osage County or Miller County," he said. "Smart 911 is going to help direct you where you need to go."

Boone County has offered Smart911 since 2011.

Boone County Joint Communications Deputy Director, Joe Piper, said in the past eight years, the app has not only helped with the safety of first responders, but of residents, as well.

The app offers users the opportunity to begin a text conversation with 911.

"If someone falls in their house, they can reply through the app to give first responders a code to get into the house. They won't have to break down the door or windows," Piper said.

He said texting is one of the most-used features in Boone County.

Smart911 is also used for weather events. Farr said it would have been useful in the tornado that hit Jefferson City in May.

"You can literally build a flume of all the places that the tornado hit and you can see there's people here who have health issues. They are on oxygen or something like that," he said. "People can get help without even calling 911."

Both Farr and Piper said the process of implementing Smart911 into the community will take time and they are currently focusing on outreach efforts to spread the word about the new resource.

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