Suffolk Residents Asked to Submit Personal Information to Help 911 Responders

Suffolk officials hope residents will submit personal information for their Smart 911 database

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    The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit. Douglas Kennedy and his wife called the charges "absurd" and said the nurses were in the wrong. Jonathan Dienst reports. This story was published Feb. 24, 2012 at 11:31 p.m. (Published Thursday, Apr 26, 2012)

    Suffolk County officials unveiled Monday a 911 system that could help first responders assist more quickly in emergency calls with the help of personal information provided ahead of time by residents. 

    The Smart 911 system relies on a database of personal profiles previously filled out by residents.

    "This system will help us help you," said Fire Rescue and Emergency Services Commissioner Joe Williams.

    When a Smart 911 user calls 911, first responders can link immediately to vital data like the names, ages, special needs and medical histories of people inside the home, according to officials.

    Smart 911 will even work with cell phone calls, which traditionally yield limited information to 911 operators.

    The new system can also track a caller's location -- an important feature in crises like last year's blizzard, when drivers were stranded on roadways, county officials said.

    The system is voluntary and residents who take part can provide as little or as much information as they choose.

    "This is a secure system, only accessible by 911 operators," said County Executive Steve Bellone.

    Despite the assurances, some residents have doubts about opening up to Big Brother. 

    "I am skeptical of giving personal information to anybody," said Jerry Goodfellow.

    "If they want medical information about me, that's fine," said Jennifer Dudley. "But anything past me, no."

    A private firm, Rave Mobile Safety, operates the system, which is already used in 31 states.

    Suffolk County officials will now market the free service to residents. To take part, log onto smart911.com.

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