Richmond residents can create emergency health profiles for first responders

Richmond Department of Emergency Communications launches an emergency health database...
Richmond Department of Emergency Communications launches an emergency health database (RapidSOS) to help first responders during emergency situations.(RapidSOS)
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 1:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond’s Department of Emergency Communications has launched a new effort to better protect you and first responders in emergency situations.

Residents can create a free, online health profile via RapidSOS which would be used by first responders during an emergency.

“It’s only accessed when individuals call 911, only by the 911 operators, and we can share that information with responders,” said Stephen Willoughby, director of the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications.

Information is associated with an individual’s phone number and is made available only when a 911 call is placed from said phone number.

The creation of a database is one of the requirements through the Marcus Alert system, which was signed by Governor Ralph Northam in December.

“For Marcus Alert, those who have mental health concerns, we want to make sure that we’re aware of those concerns when we’re responding, so that police officers and other responders can make better decisions when they respond to those incidents,” Willoughby said.

The law is named after Marcus David Peters who was shot and killed by Richmond police in 2018. Peters’ family said he was suffering from a mental health episode.

However, residents are also able to enter other health information including developmental disabilities, allergies, pre-existing conditions, emergency contacts and more.

“Yes, there’s no doubt [it will help],” Willoughby said. “The more information 911 and an emergency responder has when they arrive on scene - there’s less surprises. They have more information to make those response decisions.”

The City of Richmond is one of the first localities to implement a database. Initial Marcus Alert programs are being developed in the following areas:

  • Region 1: Orange, Madison, Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties (Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services)
  • Region 2: Prince William County (Prince William County Community Services)
  • Region 3: City of Bristol and Washington County including the Towns of Abingdon, Damascus and Glade Spring (Highlands CSB)
  • Region 4: City of Richmond (Richmond Behavioral Health Authority)
  • Region 5: City of Virginia Beach (Virginia Beach Human Services)

These listed jurisdictions in the five regions are required to implement these databases by Dec. 1, 2021. All other jurisdictions across the Commonwealth will be required to have a system in place next year.

Meanwhile, Richmond selected the RapidSOS technology due to its use across the country.

“If an individual who is registered in Richmond, calls 911 elsewhere in another state that is using this same solution, their information will appear before the 911 dispatcher as well,” Willoughby said.

The database is one of several initiatives that Richmond and the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority will be launching to provide better services to those with mental health issues.

Learn more at this link.

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