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11/28/2012
NCC OKs new 911 information system; Councilman/co-sponsor Bob Weiner: "residents can now upload information such as family contacts, medical conditions to a secured website for 911 operators to access"

NCCo Council OKs new 911 information system
By Tom Lehman, WDEL
 


New Castle County Council has passed an ordinance to improve how emergency calls are handled by 911 operators and first responders.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more.

Council has given the OK for $76,000 to be appropriated for the implementation of a SMART 911 system that can give 911 operators more information about those making emergency calls.

Councilman and co-sponsor Bob Weiner says local residents can upload information such as family contacts and medical conditions to a secured website for 911 operators to access.

"Right now we have system where the 911 only know a limited amount of information if someone decides to enroll in enhanced 911, but the SMART 911 system provides a lot more

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Weiner says police and first responders sometimes arrive at homes but can't contact the person who called 911 or encounter anything unusual, which causes them to leave the scene. He says the new system would help address that situation.

"If you have a medically challenged person in your house or children, you want the police to know 'if there's an emergency, do not hesitate to break into this house, because time is of the essence,'" he says.

Motivation to adopt the system was sparked by the death of a resident in Weiner's district who died after calling 911 for a medical emergency but couldn't speak with operators or meet first responders at her door.

Her son, Joe Mirolli, says he and family discovered their mother and later investigated into why she hadn't been reached. He says they discovered that first responders had arrived at the house but left after being unable to reach her and that there did not appear to be a visible emergency from outside the home.

Mirolli says the family wasn't reached because first responders didn't have contact information for other family members. He says the SMART 911 system will allow family or next of kin to be contacted during similar situations, allowing them to advise responders how to proceed when the caller can't be reached.

"If something like this does happen, you do dial 911, you drop the phone and you can't talk anymore, now 911 has a way to get a hold of somebody that is more close in relationship to you," Mirolli says.

Dave Roberts, County Emergency Communications Chief, says the new system will help when those calling 911 can't answer the door or speak on the line with operators. In some situations, responders could break into a house to reach someone who cannot reach their door.

"It'll provide us with the information that we can provide to the emergency responders to make that decision at the scene," he says.

The system is expected to go into effect within the first four months of next year.

Councilman Jea Street also announced during the meeting that he will no longer serve as co-chair of the council's public safety committee.

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