Iowa County to Become First Smart911 User in State
Emergency calls in Dubuque County should soon get a significant IQ boost.
On Tuesday, the county supervisors approved participation in the Smart911 program.
Residents in a Smart911 jurisdiction are able to upload vital information, including medical or mental health care concerns, that will automatically be shared with first responders in the event of an emergency.
The supervisors had expressed trepidation with the program, as the county and the city of Dubuque would be required to evenly split a $14,000 annual fee. But Sheriff Don Vrotsos was able to secure additional concessions from Smart911, making the proposal more palatable.
First, if participation in the program is lacking, or it is deemed unnecessary, the county will be able to opt out of the contract after nine months.
"One of the concerns the board had was it was a five-year contract," Vrotsos said, adding "We can go ahead and do the yearly over the next four years, or opt out."
Daryl Klein, supervisors chairman, said the option to cut ties with Smart911 will give law enforcement a chance to gauge the community's interest level.
"(It) makes sense," Klein said. "If people aren't going to utilize it, we're not locked into a five-year contract."
Since Dubuque County would be the first Smart911 patron in the state, the company is waiving all set-up and installation fees, Vrotsos said. Additionally, Dubuque County Drug Task Force forfeiture funds, rather than tax dollars, can be used for the program's first year.
Vrotsos also addressed the supervisors' concern that some areas of the county would benefit without having to pay into the program.
Seven communities in the county use Dubuque's dispatch center and will therefore have access to Smart911. Vrotsos will submit a letter to leadership in each of the communities asking for an annual contribution, based on population size.
If every eligible community opts to pay into the program, Dubuque County's annual fee would drop from $7,000 to around $3,972.
Cities that opt out of paying into the program could be prevented from participation past the first year of the contract, Vrotsos said, though details have not yet been worked out.
Vrotsos said that participation in Smart911 will be completely optional, and the amount of information shared with the company is up to each resident. But he said the program will be more effective with high participation.
"We're going to need to get the citizens to buy into it," Vrotsos told the TH.
Vrotsos said that the program could be up and running within a few months.
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