Mayor’s Column: Camden County offers expanded emergency services

The Camden County Office of Emergency Management offers expanded services to assist residents during emergencies, including Smart911, Text911 and Swift911.

Smart911 allows citizens to create an individual safety profile that helps emergency responders be better prepared in case of an emergency. Smart911 allows the addition of key information about members of your household that would help emergency responders with a call from home or any mobile phone. Useful information would include names, physical descriptions, pets in the home, service animals, vehicle details, emergency contacts and even photos. Mobile phones do not provide an address to the 911 call taker. By adding mobile phone numbers with your household 911 number, emergency responders will have a better idea as to your location.

Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1500 counties across the country. The service was credited with aiding in finding a missing child when the girl’s photo and physical description were immediately available to 911 responders. Residents are encouraged to create their safety profile with Smart911 to have their information available to dispatchers. Smart911 is private and secure, and is only used for emergency responses and is only made available to the 911 system in the event of an emergency call. All information provided is optional and you have the ability to choose the details you want included. To sign up, go to the County website at camdencounty.com.

In addition, our County 911 call center has incorporated new technology that has the ability to accept text messaging. Residents who may have difficulty making a phone call in an emergency situation can text 911 and receive follow-up texts from the communications center. This is also useful if residents have texting capabilities but not phone reception. This service, which works like a regular texting thread, is received in the radio room by the 911 operator and dispatched once contact has been made. As popular as texting has become for standard communication, the 911 dispatch center asks that anyone who can use a phone to call should always make that a priority and only use texting if they are unable to speak to dispatchers. Call 911 if you can, text if you can’t.

Finally, the Office of Emergency Management is now using Swift911 to help keep county residents informed during emergency events such as power outages, floods, evacuations, snow emergencies, road closures, etc. Swift911 is designed to get emergency messages to the public quickly and effectively via voice, text, fax and email. To sign up for Swift911, go to the County website at camdencounty.com.

Voorhees Township has offered Nixle, a system similar to Swift 911, since 2009. The Nixle system allows our police to provide real time information about local traffic alerts, amber alerts, road closings, etc. It also allows the township to provide information about community activities and events. A link to Nixle has been added to the township website at www.voorheesnj.com where residents can sign up at no cost. For more information, visit Nixle’s website at www.nixle.com.

** The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary’s 13th Annual Spring Egg Hunt has been rescheduled to Saturday, April 15, at Lions Lake Park. The fun begins at 10:30 a.m. with games, prizes and a DJ. The egg hunt starts at 11 a.m. Children from age 1 through first grade are invited and prizes will be given to all age groups. Please bring your own baskets. For more information visit www.voorheesbreakfastrotary.com.

**The Voorhees Police Foundation is holding its second annual Car Show on Saturday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the rear parking lot of the Ritz Plaza. Admission is free. The Voorhees Police Department Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance public safety services through charitable gifts.