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911 Proposal Could Improve System For Callers And First Responders

Michelle Richards of Colerain Township says she feels better about calling 911 knowing police officers have prior information about her family's special needs.
Michelle Richards of Colerain Township says she feels better about calling 911 knowing police officers have prior information about her family's special needs.
Michelle Richards of Colerain Township says she feels better about calling 911 knowing police officers have prior information about her family's special needs.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Michelle Richards of Colerain Township says she feels better about calling 911 knowing police officers have prior information about her family's special needs.

An enhanced 911 service in use in Colerain Township could soon be expanded county-wide. The CARE Initiative allows people to voluntarily provide extra information such as medical conditions to the County's Communications Center. That way first responders have a better idea of how to help people if they get an emergency call.

Michelle Richards has two sons with autism. At 6-foot-three and 220 pounds, she used to worry police might see her eldest son as a threat, not someone in need of help.

"One time Jeremy picked up a knife and was threatening me with it," she says. "I got him to put it down but if the police came in and saw him holding a knife toward me, yeah that's worrisome, but because they know my family they will handle the situation differently than had they just come in blindly."

It could cost $30,000 to $50,000 to expand the program county-wide. Right now, Colerain Township collects information from people who want to participate and sends it to the Communications Center. A new database would allow anyone to add their information. It would also be included in a national database, so first responders in other states would also have access to the data if you're traveling (if they also have the same software).

Hamilton County Commissioners will consider the program as part of the 2017 budget process currently underway.

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