Schenectady County

Schenectady 911 service gathers needed info

Next month, city residents will finally be able to sign up for 911ai and give paramedics the informa

Next month, city residents will finally be able to sign up for 911ai and give paramedics the information they’ll need in an emergency: allergies; serious medical conditions; the location of a child’s bedroom.

Emergency workers want every adult to consider: If they were unconscious, what would they most want paramedics or firefighters to know?

They’ll be able to type in that information and link it to their phone number. If they call 911, the information will automatically come up on the dispatcher’s screen. The 911ai program, which stands for 911-additional-information, is free to residents.

Residents should be able to easily change their information, reflecting deaths, births or temporary medical conditions. Firefighters hope the system is so easy to use that residents would even report that an occupant is temporarily in a wheelchair, perhaps because of broken legs.

Even residents who don’t have any serious medical conditions could use the system, city Director of Communications Kevin Moore said.

“Let’s say they have a swimming pool and the chlorine is stored in the garage. If we have a car fire, that’s important for us to know,” he said.

He also recommends residents include the location of a hidden front-door key. Emergency workers often have to knock down doors to get to patients.

When the program begins next month, there will be a link on the city website,, to enter information. That link should be available by mid-month.

Mohawk Ambulance paramedics are also looking forward to the program, which they said will be invaluable when they treat a patient who is unconscious or unable to speak.

“It’s not common, but it does happen, and those are often our sickest patients,” said Richard Brandt, vice president of operations at Mohawk Ambulance.

He wants to know what medications the patient is on so paramedics can avoid giving out drugs that cause complications. “We carry some very complex medications now, so I think it’s important. It can have side effects,” he said.

Those who could pass out due to a medical condition — such as diabetes or epilepsy — should include that information, he added.

“If we knew they were diabetic, that would certainly give us a clue of what’s going wrong with our patient,” he said.

For now, paramedics ask family members for the patient’s medical history. If no one is around, they interview bystanders in search of any hint of what could be happening.

The 911ai program could eliminate those guesses.

There is some information that isn’t needed. Orders of protection are already in the police database, so residents don’t need to list those, Moore said.

Those with a lengthy list of medications could explain where their list is rather than writing in all of the drugs. Anyone on regular medications is advised to carry a list, including drug amounts, as well as posting a list in a discreet place in their house, such as behind the medicine cabinet door.

Residents will only get 120 characters — about 20 words — so brevity is important.

Elderly residents could list an alternate phone number, perhaps that of an adult child, for police to call to get more information.

The system will ask users to check their information every six months so that it remains up to date. That’s what makes the system better than the stickers that residents used to place on house windows to indicate their children’s bedrooms.

“You couldn’t get those off, and then the ‘child’ is 18 and off at college,” Moore said.

To avoid that problem, the system will automatically email users every six months and ask them to check their information. If the user doesn’t respond to the email, the information is removed.

“Otherwise, the baby that’s on the SIDS monitor is now 5 years old and is healthy and playing soccer,” Moore said.

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