The Benefits of Smart911

Those who suffer from mental illness and their caregivers often face the daunting question: Is it time to call 911? Many are hesitant to call 911, even when a situation appears dangerous. What if you call 911 for your mentally ill relative and they become even more agitated by the arrival of police cars in the driveway? What if a call for help turns into an arrest? What if the situation turns deadly?

These are the type of questions that led NAMI Santa Fe to collaborate with Ken Martinez, Director of the Regional Emergency Communications Center (911 System for Santa Fe) earlier this year. Martinez, wanted to discuss a new tool that the center now has at its fingertips: Smart911.

Martinez is responsible for Santa Fe’s 911 communications center, and deeply invested in ensuring that those calls translate into the best possible response by police and fire department officials. So much, he explains, depends on the information that is given to the 911 operator. What first responders know before they arrive at the scene can make all the difference in how a situation plays out.

Smart911 is a national database that allows you to create a profile linked to your address and phone number. You can upload photographs, floor plans, and medical history. You can enter your pet’s names, vehicle information and any other details that could be helpful in deescalating a crisis.

There are many instances where additional information could be life-saving. It is a little known fact that location technology is oftentimes inaccurate, and while police can get an approximate location from a cell phone, they mostly rely on callers to tell them where they are. Adding additional location information to your Smart911 profile can cut down response time dramatically.

In the case of mental illness, you can include information on medications you take, emergency contacts you would like called, whether you are agitated by loud noises, etc. It is also possible to create profiles for your family members if you are concerned about their interactions with Law Enforcement.

A profile takes about a half hour to create. Profiles are secure, private and confidential and your personal profile is only accessible while you are calling 911. For more information about Smart911, please visit