It’s a message most people with asthma and life-threatening allergies take to heart: Plan ahead for health emergencies. This involves following an Asthma or Anaphylaxis Action Plan and carrying a quick-relief bronchodilator inhaler or epinephrine auto-injectors.

But what if calling 911 is necessary? A national service allows you to plan ahead with 911, too.

Using Smart911, you can create a Safety Profile that will automatically appear on screen to 911 call takers when you call. It provides information about you and your health needs during an emergency, giving call takers access to more than just your telephone number and general location.

Smart911 is free – its services are paid for by public agencies. With April being 911 Education Month, Allergy & Asthma Network spoke with Katharine Dahl of Smart911 about the service:

Q: How can Smart911 benefit people with asthma or life-threatening allergies?

A: Smart911 saves precious time in an emergency. With Smart911, you can provide specific information including medical conditions or medications. If you’re experiencing an asthma flare or anaphylactic reaction, the 911 call taker can immediately dispatch EMTs who are better prepared and have more knowledge of the medical emergency before they arrive on scene.

If the caller is unable to talk, perhaps due to asthma symptoms, the 911 call taker can initiate SMS text messaging as another means of communicating with the caller.

Recently, a 911 call taker received a call and all she could hear was coughing in the background. When she looked at the Safety Profile, she knew the caller had a life-threatening allergy to bee stings. The Safety Profile had the caller’s home address and she sent medical help. It saved the caller’s life.

In another incident, a frantic mother called 911 when her small child ran into a grill. She forgot to tell the 911 call taker that her son had a lethal allergy to latex. Fortunately, her Safety Profile contained that information and EMTs removed their latex gloves before arriving on scene. Without that important allergy information, the incident would have gone from bad to worse.

Q: What is included in the Safety Profile?

A: It can include information about your medical condition and medications as well as your family members, your home, pets and vehicle. Smart911 only asks for information that is relevant to aid an emergency response.

You control the Safety Profile – you can change, add or remove information at any time. It’s your responsibility to keep it up to date. First responders would rather have no information about a caller than out-of-date information.

Q: Do all 911 call centers use Smart911?

A: No. When you sign up for Smart911, your Safety Profile will display at any Smart911-supported location nationwide. However, if your 911 call is routed to a call center that has not installed Smart911, your Safety Profile will not be available to the call taker. We are actively working to make the technology and service available across the country.

For more information about Smart911 or to sign up for the service, visit