Matt Murphy, lead dispatcher at the Tehachapi Police Department, uses Smart911 technology that proves helpful when emergency calls come to the department.

Community members with mental health issues, the homeless or those battling substance abuse are successfully using a program called Smart911, helping the local Tehachapi Police Department to be aware of any health condition, so when emergency assistance is needed, they will be better equipped.

“It’s a very advanced system,” said Key Budge, representative for the Tehachapi Police Department. He added, “When you are dealing with a call, critical information about medication or other information should come up to assist the police department.”

This year marks the one-year partnership between the Tehachapi Police Department and Kern Behavior Health and Recovery Services. Many departments throughout Kern County are also using the program and partnering with the creator of Smart911, Rave Mobile Safety.

The free application has 97 users in the Tehachapi area and allows community members to upload information about themselves, whether they have a health condition or how to best reach them in case they need assistance.

“The program fills any type of physical of mental need you or your family requires,” said Matt Murphy, lead dispatcher. “You can sign up your entire household. If you have a hard time breathing and require an oxygen tank or are paralyzed— these types of information are what first responders need to know and do not have in the system on most 9-1-1 calls.”

Murphy added that the software scans an incoming number and if the caller is registered through the program, information appears on the screen of the dispatcher and in the police department vehicle for only 45 minutes and cannot be accessed otherwise. This allows the dispatcher to help find the location of the caller and be aware of any health needs the person has recorded.

Roger Perez, departmental public information officer for the Behavioral Heath & Recovery Services, said Smart911 best follows the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to protect the person’s privacy as much as possible. Users voluntarily upload information about themselves.

More than 44 million Americans suffer from mental health issues and the program has recently been updated to help people in their crisis, said Todd Piett, CEO at Rave Mobile Safety, in a recent news release.

For more information visit: smart911.com.