Enhancing Emergency Response: Montgomery County's Voluntary 911 Registry Proposal
Maintaining public safety and improving emergency response are important aspects for any community. This week, a bill was introduced in Montgomery County with the specific aim of improving the county's emergency response capabilities. Bill 33-23, "Police – Voluntary Registry for Emergency 911 Calls - Established," seeks to establish a voluntary registry for emergency 911 calls, which would permit individuals or caregivers to provide specific personal and medical information to assist emergency responders when responding to a 911 call. This information could be essential, especially for people with mental disabilities or specific health conditions.
During its recent legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly came close to passing HB1176, which would have mandated the establishment of a voluntary flagging system. Bill 33-23 closely mirrors the language in HB1176 but with a particular emphasis on adopting processes used in other jurisdictions that have successfully implemented such a program, such as Howard County, Maryland. Howard County's program has been highly praised by first responders and offers a registry that supplies them with crucial information, empowering them to customize their responses accurately.
The voluntary 911 Address Flagging Program in Howard County has had a remarkable impact on enhancing community safety and providing crucial support to vulnerable individuals. Initially starting with 70 registered families, primarily those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the program now boasts 450 voluntarily flagged addresses, encompassing people with ASD, dementia, intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Montgomery County hopes to replicate Howard County's success.
The proposal includes no fee for registering for the registry, and those who choose to participate can update their information as needed. Bill 33-23 allows individuals or caregivers to voluntarily pre-register and provide information about the following conditions:
1. Behaviors: Such as being nonspeaking, sensitive to loud sounds, bright lights, touch, prone to avoid eye contact, delayed response times, unaware of danger, or prone to wander.
2. Diagnoses or Traits: Including being blind or having low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, using a wheelchair, having Alzheimer's or dementia, autism, mental health disability, intellectual disability, physical disability, or developmental disability.
The public hearing for this bill will occur on September 12th at 1:30 p.m. The worksession, which will occur to be announced later in the Public Safety Committee, will provide an opportunity for further discussion from the community. The lead sponsor for Bill 33-23 is Councilmember Luedtke, and Co-Sponsors include Councilmembers Stewart, Albornoz, Public Safety Committee Chair Katz, Council President Glass, and Council Vice-President Friedson.
Bill Text of Bill 33-23, Police – Voluntary Registry for Emergency 911 Calls - Established