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With teens’ help, SMART911 service comes to the hamlet

With SMART911, victims leave by ambulance faster

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When an ambulance arrives to assist someone, medical information is shared with emergency medical technicians before the vehicle heads to a hospital. Town Councilwoman Vicki Walsh said she has always found that frustrating.

“My parents live not far away from me, and an ambulance is called twice a month,” Walsh said. “Every time, I have to spend 10 minutes telling them the medications.”

Walsh also knows of someone who was having a seizure but couldn’t be taken to the hospital until the EMT knew about their medications. That was frightening, she said. Although she understands that the EMT’s are just doing their job, she said she worries that someone who needs an ambulance may not make it to the hospital alive.

Then Walsh discovered SMART911, a lifesaving service that enables people to create an emergency profile to assist EMTs, police officers and firefighters. If someone registers on the service, which is free, responders will receive an alert and are given the person’s information, even before they arrive to provide assistance. All of the information stored in the SMART911 database is displayed on the 911 screen inside the ambulance.

Family members and friends will no longer have to know the medications that the distressed person is taking. SMART911 will provide the responder with the needed information to act fast and immediately help.

“Let’s say a neighbor calls 911 for their neighbor,” explained Matthew McCartin, a Problem Oriented Police officer with the Nassau County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct. “If the person is registered with SMART911, police will see the address and all of the medical information immediately, information the neighbor will probably not know. SMART911 helps us when people are in distress. When we know their medications, we can expedite the process of helping them because we will have all of the proper documentation.”

People can include as much or as little information as they want when creating their profile, McCartin said. Creating it isn’t difficult, but for some, like senior citizens, it may be impossible, because it involves a computer, which many cannot manage.

Walsh has found a way to help, which will benefit more than just those who want to register. She is offering teenagers community service hours with SMART911 at a time when Covid-19 has made service nearly impossible. Helping someone create a profile on SMART911 can be done over the phone, she said, so the teens can provide a vital service safely during the pandemic.

East Norwich eighth-grader Emma Ansbro said she had been looking for community service opportunities. Before the pandemic, she took part in Friday Night Friends, playing with children with special needs, among other volunteer opportunities.

“It was fun,” Emma said. “I like playing with younger kids. Over the summer I also baked sugar cookies for the food pantry.”

Abby Archdeadon, Emma’s mother, said she learned about SMART911 when she got a pamphlet in the mail. “My mother got it, too and put it aside,” she said. “Our family have had illnesses and operations, and Emma’s grandmother fell on the ice and had to go to the hospital by ambulance because she lives alone. It would have been better for her if she had SMART911.”

Emma has now registered her grandmothers and a great-aunt on SMART911. “I think this is such a good idea,” she said. “Some people don’t understand technology, especially older people.”

The profile does not require that someone have email or a cellphone. It just asks for basic information, like how many people live in a household. This is important for police and firefighters to know because if an evacuation is necessary or there is a fire, they would be aware of how many people needed assistance before they arrived.

Also important is who should be called first in an emergency and insurance information.

“You can spend 15 minutes at a time with a neighbor or loved one to register them” said Walsh, “and then arrange for other 15-minute intervals to complete the process.”

SMART911 can have other information that could be beneficial. “Sometimes people call the precinct to say they found a dog,” McCartin said. “We write down the information. Sometimes people call and say they’re missing a dog. If the information is in SMART911 — the pet type, name, species and a picture of the animal — we might be able to help.”

Pictures of those living in a household can be stored in the data base, too, as well as license information. This could be helpful for police if someone is missing.

“In the case of a silver alert, if we have the information in SMART911, we can get it out as quickly as we can,” McCartin said. “Time is of the essence.”

Walsh said that creating a profile should take an hour or less. Teenagers interested in fulfilling community service hours by registering others on SMART911 can keep a log and then email it to Walsh. She is there to help, she said.

Emma said she was happy that she found SMART911. “It’s good because I can help other people,” she said. “And I’ll like spending time with them too.”

For more information about community service and SMART911, contact Waslh at (516) 624-6618 or vwalsh@oysterbay-ny.gov. To register, go to SMART911.com.