Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7 WVXU Connecting you to a world of ideas with NPR news, local news from our award-winning team & music/entertainment programs heard only on public radio.

Joined By Plush Family, City Encourages Residents To Sign Up For Smart911

Tana Weingartner
The family of Kyle Plush is encouraging people to register with Smart911. Their son died, despite calling 911 twice, after becoming trapped in his car in April 2018.

When you call 911 from a mobile phone, the operator knows your phone number and a rough idea of your location. If you sign up with Smart911, as Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials are encouraging you do, the dispatcher will have access to all kinds of personal and medical information that first responders might need to know in an emergency.Smart911 is a national database that allows users to upload personal information that could assist police or firefighters when you call for help. You can register here.

You can upload as much or as little information as you like, including medical details or health concerns, how many pets may be in the home, emergency contact information, and personal identification details or pictures.

"If a firefighter is going to your house and you have said 'We have someone that has a problem walking,' they will know that," says Cincinnati Council Member Amy Murray. "If you have your dogs that are kept in a back hallway when you're gone, and there's a fire, you can put that in there."

The family of Kyle Plush, the Seven Hills School student who died after becoming trapped in his van despite calling 911 twice, is helping Cincinnati roll out the program. They've agreed to be part of the promotional effort encouraging people to sign up.

"As a mother who has experienced tremendous loss, I urge you to go to and sign up right now," says Plush's mother, Jill Plush. "Smart911 could have helped saved [Kyle's] life. The personal information you share on could one day be the difference between life and death for you, your husband, your son, your daughter, mother or father."

Hamilton County joined the service several months ago and about 6,000 people have registered so far. The service works for mobile phones and landlines.

Locally, Butler, Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Dearborn counties also participate in Smart911.

Once registered, your information is available to any participating agency, so if you call for help while traveling and you're in a participating agency's area, they'll have access to your data. Smart911 says it's available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities.

While that's reassuring for some, others may have questions about privacy and security.

"The information is only available for 45 minutes to the first responders, then it's wiped off the system," says Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel. He says the system is "safe and secure."

Director of Cincinnati's Emergency Communications Center Jayson Dunn says the company assures it has "the best cybersecurity possible for this type of a crowdsourced database."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.