Then came Enhanced 911, a system that gives a dispatcher and responders specific information on where a caller in need of help is located.
Now comes Smart911, a new service that allows citizens to put information into a system which would be helpful to responders when they arrive on the scene.
"Smart911 allows people to use the internet to build accounts linked to their phone numbers," Fulton County 911 Coordinator David Keck explained. "If, for example, you use a wheelchair or are allergic to penicillin, the information will come up when you make a 911 call, and the information can be passed on to responders."
Rave Mobile Safety developed Smart911, on the belief a "Safety Profile" that pops up when an emergency call is made would allow first responders to not only reach to the right location, but help insure the right personnel and equipment was sent, but alert responders to any special conditions they should be aware of.
"Besides medical information about family members, you can note things like the fact you have some large, mean dogs in your home," Keck said.
Smart911 has received a good reception, being endorsed nationwide by public safety and health officials, as well as local emergency responders.
Arkansas state officials were so impressed by the Smart911 system they launched an effort to make Arkansas the first state in the nation to make Smart911 available statewide.
"With Smart911, we are providing our 911 centers and emergency responders with the best possible tool to protect all of our citizens," State Senator Gilbert Baker said in announcing the Smart911 goal in June. "Through new technology and at no cost to taxpayers, Arkansas is leading the way in public safety by helping front-line responders in each and every city and town to resolve emergencies more effectively and save lives."
According to Keck, state government provided a new server and computer at the Sheriff's Office, and sent a provider to install it the week of Dec. 3, with the state paying the cost.
The service is now up and running, and citizens are invited to learn how to use the system by going to a website: www.smart911.com.
Participation in the system is entirely voluntary.
"The good thing about the system is, you can give as much or as little information as you choose to share," Keck said.
Besides medical conditions or disabilities, citizens can include home addresses associated with mobile phone numbers, floor plans of a home and other rescue-related data, even photos of family members.
Keck believes one of the features of Smart911 is the fact you can link the information to your cell phone. So, if you are in another town and become ill, your Smart911 information will be available to the 911 operator or dispatcher. Knowing, for example, that you are a diabetic or have another condition will be helpful for first responders to know.
2012 has been a busy year for the county's 911 Coordinator. This summer, Keck was involved in a major upgrade of the county 911 system, which takes place ever five years.
"We received a software upgrade, new hardware, server and workstation for our 911 system," Keck said. The cost of the upgrade was reimbursed through a grant.
"We are good for five more years," Keck said. "There is no telling how 911 will be improved by the time the next upgrade is due."