Katharine Dahl

I have not taken to reading one new book a month or frequenting the gym five times a week. I admit I have let many a New Year’s resolutions fail and have barely made it passed January 15th, but this year is different. This year I am making five New Year’s blog5resolutions to improve my health and safety. These are five resolutions I cannot afford to let slip. These are five important resolutions I promise to keep.

Resolution #1: I will wash my hands often.
I do not want the flu or cold this winter. I resolve to use soap and water or hand sanitizer to keep from spreading germs. Additionally, I do not plan to touch my face and will cover my mouth if I have a cough. All of these easy changes make a huge impact during flu.

blog2Resolution #2: I will create and update my home emergency preparedness kit.
Everyone has a different kit and should to fit your individual needs. At the very least, you should make sure your kit contains enough food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. Your kit should reflect your needs for example, pet food for pets and any prescription medications.

blog4Resolution #3: I will not use my cell phone or text while driving.
According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million auto accidents occurred in the U.S. last year related to using a cell phone or texting while driving.  A trick I have learned is to keep my cell phone out of reach while driving. I store it in my purse on the passenger side floor. I have found that if it is out of sight and out of reach, I am less compelled to reach for it and more focused as a driver.

blog3Resolution #4: I will learn CPR.
If I witnessed someone having a heart attack and could not help revive them I would never forgive myself, which is why I have resolved to learn CPR because it is not unlikely that this situation could happen. Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in adults. It accounts for 325,000 annual adult deaths in the United States. By learning how to effectively administer CPR my New Year’s resolution could mean the difference between life and death for someone.

blog6Resolution #5: Keep my Smart911 Safety Profile Up to date.  

Speaking of the difference between life and death, it is imperative that my Smart911 Safety Profile only contains accurate information for me and my household. In 2015, I will have moved twice and need to make sure they if I am unable to communicate my location, my profile will accurately display my correct address and other vital information about myself and my family.

If you are like me and can’t stick to a resolution, use the safety of yourself and your family as motivation to stick to your goals and make 2015 your safest and most prepared year yet.

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Dec 29, 2016

The unfortunate and tragic death of Music Icon Prince highlighted the reality of wireless location inaccuracy when a 9-1-1 call is placed from a mobile phone.

As you can see in this section of the transcript from the 9-1-1 call the day Prince died, the 9-1-1 dispatcher cannot automatically locate the address of a mobile call.

UM: We have someone who is unconscious.
D1: Okay, what’s the address?
UM: Um, we’re at Prince’s house.
D1: Okay, does anybody know the address? Is there any mail around that you could look at?
UM: Yea, yea, okay, hold on.
D1: Okay, your cell phone’s not going to tell me where you’re at, so I need you to find me an address.
UM: Yea, we have um, yea, we have um, so, yeah, um, the person is dead here.

The inability of the 9-1-1 system to automatically provide an accurate location of the mobile 9-1-1 call reporting Prince’s death  highlights the need for new technology to assist 9-1-1 call takers to send help faster and more efficiently.

That technology is Smart911.

WKYT’s investigations team conducted four tests to determine if similar 9-1-1  wireless location inaccuracies could happen in Madison County, Kentucky.

Wendy Lynch, Madison County 911 Director, sent WKYT a list of trouble areas they’ve had in the county over the past year — places where they weren’t able to easily identify where the cell phone was calling from. Most of the trouble spots were in rural parts of the county.

Madison County dispatchers explained, since it is a rural area, cellphone signals bounce off neighboring county cell towers. They said pinpointing a location is a two-part process. When a person calls 911 from a cell phone, they first see the cell phone tower the person hit, which may not be close to the caller.

Madison County officials recommend that all residents of Madison County visit www.smart911.com and create a Safety Profile. A Smart911 Safety Profile enables 9-1-1 call takers and first responders send help faster and more efficiently. Smart911 saves time in an emergency and saves lives.

Watch the full report here:

Learn more about how Smart911 can help understaffed 911 dispatch centers here.

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May 15, 2016

aanlogoIt’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 www.Smart911.com.

This article was originally posted on http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/plan-ahead-for-calling-911-too/#sthash.LdeXaWpB.dpuf

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Apr 28, 2016

911calltakerchristmasPicking out Christmas gifts for your loved ones can be very challenging and people have varying degrees of success. So if you are struggling to find the perfect give for the 9-1-1 call takers who work tirelessly for you 365 days a year, struggle no longer!

I have listed the five perfect gifts for the first first responder available 24/7 to save your life.

1. No more butt dials!

Tell your butt to cool it. In New York City, almost 40% of the 9-1-1 calls are butt dials, which equates to some 10,000 calls a day.  Accidental dials are a waste of precious resources and could delay sending help to someone in need. If an accidental 9-1-1 call is placed, the 9-1-1 call taker doesn’t know if it is an open air call of someone who needs help. For buttdial191911every accidental dial, the dispatcher calls back the number to and if they don’t receive a response, an officer is dispatched. As these accidental dials increase, the burden on 9-1-1 and first responders does as well.

Over one-third of 9-1-1 dispatchers surveyed said that such callbacks were the largest “pain point” of their workday. Help reduce this pain point by locking your smartphone and adding a passcode screen. Your local 9-1-1 call taker will thank you.

2. Only call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

A wrong fast food order, a ride to the police station, help with homework… the list of ridiculous reasons people call 9-1-1 continues to grow. And yes, some of these reasons are quite comical, but these calls place a huge burden on the 9-1-1 system. Of the 240 million calls the United States 9-1-1 system handles each year, a staggering amount— more than half in many cities — have absolutely nothing to do with life or death.  No one is laughing when a call about chicken nuggets prevents someone with a medical emergency getting through.

Add “learn local 10 digit non-emergency number” to your Christmas gift list to lessen the burden on your 9-1-1 call takers.

Hangup3. Don’t hang up

No one likes being hung up on, and this includes 9-1-1 call takers! If in the event you do accidentally dial 9-1-1, stay on the line and let them know you called by mistake. This saves them a lot of time and prevents them from having to call you back and ensure you aren’t calling for an emergency.

4. Don’t text when you can call

Texting to 9-1-1 is slowly being rolled out across the United States, and is currently available in a very small portion of the country. If you live in an area where texting to 9-1-1 is available, only text if you must. The motto is “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

9-1-1 call takers are trained to listen to the caller’s voice, tone, and background noise. All of these elements help them gain a better understanding of what is going on. A text has none of that. Plus, it is takes much longer to get the same amount of information from the person in need.  If there is a home invasion, or a domestic violence incident, texting can be a crucial element to get help. However, every 9-1-1 call taker would ask that you call if you can, text if you can’t for his or her Christmas wish.

location1010105. No excuses about signing up for Smart911

9-1-1 call takers do their best with a very out of date 9-1-1 infrastructure. The system was designed for landlines that provide an address with every call.  To date, 70% of 9-1-1 calls are from mobile phones, which only provide a 9-1-1 call taker a phone number and a general location. If a caller is unable to communicate, there is very little information for them to work with and it is becoming increasingly difficulty to send help.

Every 9-1-1 call taker would you appreciate taking 5 to 10 minutes and creating a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com. By providing key information about your household, you allow them to send help faster and more efficiently.

The gift of additional data in a Smart911 Safety Profile is the gift that keeps on giving and could one day save your life!

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Dec 18, 2015

I wouldn’t call myself a 9-1-1 expert, but I have worked for Smart911 for the past three years, and at this point I thought I knew all the interesting tidbits and facts about 9-1-1 and its history.  I’m sure there are many 9-1-1 industry leaders and call takers who thought the same!

fite_callfirst911Did I know where the first 9-1-1 call was placed? Yes, Haleyville, AL. Did I know why the numbers 9-1-1 were chosen?  Yes, because it was quick to dial on a rotary phone and was not in wide use. Did I know disconnected cell phones can dial 9-1-1? Yes, the only way a cell phone would not be able to dial 9-1-1 is if the battery died or was taken out.

However, I recently stumbled upon a few new 9-1-1 facts that I had to share.

1.The World’s Oldest Emergency Phone Number.

The world’s oldest emergency phone number was introduced on June 30, 1937. The number I s999 and was introduced in the United Kingdom. The reason the emergency number was implemented was because a call to the fire brigade was held in a queue with the telephone company. Sadly, the delay cost five women their lives in the fire.


2. The First Emergency Number in the United States

An early precursor to the 911 number in North America debuted in December 1957, eleven years before 9-1-1 debut. The California Highway Patrol created a traffic emergency number, .


atandt9113. AT&T Developed 9-1-1

The emergency number 9-1-1 was developed by AT&T as a public service to improve emergency communications. However, there is some speculation that AT&T has a clear motivation to create 911 in order to divert millions of emergency telephone calls that were made to its “0” operators. Implementing 9-1-1 as an emergency number allowed them to significantly cut costs.


4. The First Ever Arrest Due to an Emergency Call

The first arrest due to an emergency call happened on July 8, 1937, at 4:20 a.m. when the wife of John Stanley Beard dialed 999 to report a burglar outside her home in England. The burglar, 24-year-old Thomas Duffys, was arrested.


9-1-1surprisingfacts15. Annual 9-1-1 Festival

Known as the “The City Where 9-1-1 Began,” Haleyville, Alabama, holds a 9-1-1 festival every year that honors all police, fire, and emergency personnel.


9-1-1callinmuseum6. The First Phone To Ever Dial 9-1-1

The phone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call in the United States is in a museum in Haleyville, Alabama. A duplicate is still used at the police station there.


7. National 9-1-1 Can’t Be Hacked

This one is pretty clear because technically there isn’t a national 9-1-1 network to hack into.  All 9-1-1 networks are local networks. It is possible to disable a local network, but every 9-1-1 center would have to be taken down individually to affect nationwide 9-1-1 service.


Well, there you have it. Seven 9-1-1 facts that even 9-1-1 industry leaders and call takers would be surprised by.

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Dec 9, 2015

smart911_smartlet_ppt_missing2-300x235We hear all the time that Smart911 helped first responders by providing key information during an emergency situation. If you had to dial 9-1-1 and your Smart911 Profile helped, we want to hear from you! We’re looking for stories to feature on our website about how Smart911 was used during an emergency 9-1-1 call.

We understand that calling 9-1-1 can be terrifying and often happens on the worst day of someone’s life, but we’re asking you to share your experience to help others understand the value of Smart911 in a real-life emergency. We hope we can use your story to help others be more prepared if they ever have to call 9-1-1.

We have included some questions to help you share your story with the Smart911 community.

Why did you sign up for Smart911?

Provide a brief overview of how you heard about Smart911 and why you signed up. Did you hear about Smart911 on the news? From your town? From your neighbor? What motivated you to sign up? Did you think it was a good idea or was there a specific reason?

Why did you have to call 9-1-1?

Explain what prompted you to call 9-1-1. Was there an accident? Did you need police, fire, or medical help?

How was your Smart911 Safety Profile used?

Did the 9-1-1 call taker reference your Safety Profile? How did they use the information in your Safety Profile to send a faster and more efficient emergency response?

To enter your story:

To submit your story, please email it to us at supporters@smart911.com. We will compile the stories to feature on our blog, and on our website. Once they are posted, we will email you to let you know.

Not sure how to start? You can view previously submitted stories here: https://safety.smart911.com/smart911stories/


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May 20, 2015

Yesterday there was a “wake-up call.” Did you hear it? On March 24th, the American Diabetes Association asked the American public to determine if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes by taking the Diabetes Risk Test.

Last year, 37% of respondents were at high risk for type 2 diabetes, which is why the wake-up call isn’t just to take the test, but to also kick start a healthier more active lifestyle to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

You can test your risk by taking the quick test here: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test. I took the test myself to determine my risk and to see what I could do to lower my chances of being diagnosed with this deadly disease.

The first question of the test asks if your mother, father, sister or brother have diabetes. I selected “no” because although both of my grandfathers had diabetes, none of my direct relatives do.  A family history of diabetes is a risk, and so is high blood pressure.  I select that I have not been diagnosed with blood pressure and that I am younger than 40. They ask for your age because your chance of being diagnosed with diabetes increases with your age. You are also more likely to have undiagnosed diabetes if you are a man.  I select “woman,” which prompts a specific question for woman about a history of gestational diabetes, which I have not experienced. In addition to physical and genetic attributes, the test also asks about your current level of physical activity and height and weight.

After taking the 7 question test, I learn that my risk of having type 2 diabetes is low, but I still did score a 1 out of 10 because of my height and weight. In fact, I can lower my risk of type 2 diabetes by becoming more active and losing weight. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight through regular physical activity and healthy eating.

Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States, and more than a quarter of them—eight million—do not even know they have it, which is why it’s so important to take the quick test to assess your risk. One reason an early diagnosis is so important is because it often comes 7 to 10 years after the onset of the disease. Having diabetes go untreated for so long can have severe complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

Don’t wait! Hear the wake-up call and take the Diabetes Risk Test today.




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Mar 26, 2015

Woman heart2Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  For women, the signs of a heart attack are different than they are for men, which often results in symptoms going unrecognized and delayed treatment. In honor of American Heart Month, we have taken lessons from women who have experienced a heart attack to help other women prevent heart attacks and recognize the signs should they experience one.

  1. Make your health a priority

To lower your risk for a heart attack, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, improve cholesterol levels, manage your stress levels, and listen to your doctor.

“I put everybody’s needs ahead of mine. Even my husband had recognized it, but I wouldn’t listen.  Your body talks to you and you need to listen. If something seems out of whack, go to the doctor. Don’t ignore it.” – Julia Allen, Heart Attack Survivor, Age 46, Charlotte, NC

  1. Know the signs

Women have very different heart attack symptoms than men.  Both men and women can experience chest pressure, but women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. Instead, women may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.

heart-health-stethoscope-xl“I didn’t think I could be having a heart attack. I was having symptoms more common for a woman than a man.” -Veronica Sanchez, Heart Attack Survivor, Age 53, Houston, TX

  1. Don’t Delay. Call 9-1-1.

With a heart attack, every second counts. If you think you are having a heart attack, immediately call 9-1-1. Today, heart attack victims can benefit from new medications and treatments previously unavailable. Some medications can stop some heart attacks in progress, which is why it is important to call 9-1-1 and get help right away!

“If you think you’re at risk for a heart attack, call 9-1-1. I want women to know that they deserve that ambulance ride, because it’s not about being a bother.” – Jen Thorson, Heart Attack Survivor, Age 41, St. Paul, MN

  1. John-QA-Women-Heart-Attacks-2Broken Heart Syndrome is Real

Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. After the death of a loved one, take extra care to reduce stress especially for those with a family history of heart attacks.

“It takes a very serious blow to the system to suffer a stroke and/or a heart attack that’s why they call it Broken Heart Syndrome” – Kathy Whittaker, Heart Attack Survivor, Suffolk County, NY

Learning from these women’s shared experiences shows us that making yourself and your health a priority will lower your risk for a heart attack. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death for men and women.  Because of the high risk of heart attacks, it is important to recognize that the well-known heart attack symptoms to ensure you receive the best treatments right away.

Thanks to Go Red For Women for proving real stories from heart attack survivors. Read more stories here: https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/share-your-story/

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Feb 12, 2015

Stalking3In a lifetime, 1 in every 6 women will be impacted by stalking. In total, 7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. National Stalking Awareness month aims to raise awareness about the realities of stalking and enable victims to effectively respond. The legal definitions of stalking vary, but a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In order to feel a sense of empowerment, I have learned a few safety measures that will help protect myself in an emergency.

Stalking2One important factor that helps keep individual safe is awareness. If you are walking alone, stay alert.  Studies show that criminals choose targets that appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. When I am walking alone, I avoid talking on or using my cell phone. Although using a cell phone is a distraction, I hold it in my hand in case I need to place an emergency call. I also have to remind myself to trust my gut. If you encounter someone who doesn’t feel safe, trust your gut and avoid that person or call 9-1-1. Sometimes woman can be too nice or polite and put themselves at serious risk.

If you are approached by someone with a knife or gun, do not go with them to a secondary location. You must scream, yell, and fight to draw attention to yourself and avoid getting moved to a new location. Once you are alone with your kidnapper, you have less of chance of escaping. If you are a woman fighting off a man, you will not be able to match his strength. However, you can make the most of a moment when he is distracted and use the heel of your palm or elbow to strike him in the eyes, throat, or groin. Once you have made contact that is your chance to run away. In the moment, you may be paralyzed by fear, by committing to this plan now, it is much more likely to kick in during an emergency.

Stalking1Duct tape is the number one method criminals use to kidnap people. Fortunately, you can escape duct tape in two seconds as long as you create the right angles. If I can do it, you can do it. All you need to is to put your hands above your head and pull down fast and hard ripping your hands apart past each of your hips. If your hands are bound with zip ties, you tighten the zip ties as much as possible and center the locking mechanism between your hands. Using the same motion as you did with the duct tape, the zip tie will break at the weakest point, the locking mechanism.

Fear is a key component of stalking. Fortunately, these safety tips make me feel empowered and that I have an arsenal of tools to use against an attacker. I hope you can consider these safety tips to incorporate into your daily life giving you a plan in case you are confronted by a frightening or dangerous situation.


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Jan 26, 2015

resources for alzheimer's caregiversThe thing about my Grandma being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is that it happened slowly. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started, but over the past five years she has transitioned from her own apartment, to an independent living facility, to assisted living.  She went from not being able to recall certain words or terms to not remembering loved ones entirely. And my mother went from an attentive daughter to a full time care caregiver.

caregiverthumbnailMy mother is one of 65.7 million caregivers that make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged and my grandma is one of the estimated 5.2 million Americans that have Alzheimer’s disease.  As my grandma’s condition has deteriorated, my mother’s time and devotion has increased, which can carry a physical and emotional burden. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and more than one-third report symptoms of depression.

Given this bleak reality for caregivers, it is important not to lose yourself in the care for your loved one and find a balance. As being a caregiver has taken on a larger role in my mother’s life, she has made a more concerted effort to take care of herself by using these three tips.

  1. Find others who are going through a similar experience and support each other. My mother is fortunate that her sister lives nearby and can also help care for their mother and they are able to share these experiences and lean on each other when times are tough. Online forums have also been a great outlet for her to tackle challenges and learn from other people’s journeys.
  2. Take time for yourself. By taking time to relax and reduce stress, you will feel more rejuvenated. Due to the physical and emotional burden of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.3 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2013. Remember that if you do not put your own health first, you will be a less effective caregiver.
  3. Accept offers for help from your friends and family. Just because you know the ropes best, doesn’t mean you are the only one who can do the job. Especially when my mother was working, she was limited to how often she could visit my Grandma.  Rather than burdening herself with extra trips, I was easily able to incorporate grocery shopping and checking the hearing aid batteries into my visits.



Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. As my grandma’s Alzheimer’s worsens, it will be even more important for my mother to lean on her support system, to rely on her family and friends, and take time for herself.


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Nov 12, 2014