July 16, 2021

The Martinsville-Henry County 911 Center has created a database for residents and businesses to voluntarily provide relevant information that can assist responders during an emergency.

As part of the Marcus-David Peters Act, the database will equip first responders with pertinent records to find appropriate solutions for those suffering from a mental health crisis or emergency.

“Whenever we dispatch first responders, it is important that we are sending the right people for the job,” said J.R. Powell, Director of the Martinsville-Henry County 911 Center. “If someone is having a mental health crisis, they may not always need a police officer. Sometimes that escalates the problem rather than improving the situation. The database allows for people to come to us ahead of time and share that mental health information so the dispatcher will know who to send.”

Information provided such as behavioral health illnesses, mental health illnesses, developmental or intellectual disabilities, or brain injuries will remain confidential. The data will not be made available to the public or any other entity. Any data collected will only be used by the 911 Center and emergency responders to better serve the needs of the individuals and the community.

“Right now, all our dispatchers are emergency medical dispatchers so we do have a question and answer process that we use to determine if someone is mentally ill,” Powell said. “Sometimes that will lead the dispatcher to catch on that this person is having a mental health emergency and sometimes they may not. That’s why this database is important. It’ll give the dispatchers that information immediately once they receive the call.”

The information can be provided by the individual with the illness or by a parent or legal guardian. Any minor will automatically be removed from the database when they turn 18 unless a request to remain in the database is received from the individual or a legal guardian. The date of birth is required on the voluntary database form in order to meet the automatic removal guidelines.

A resident or business may submit their emergency needs information by visiting the 911 webpage at www.henrycountyva.gov/marcusalert .A physical copy of the form can be obtained by calling 911 Administration at (276) 632-1197.

Once the information is received, any future calls to 911 from the address and/or phone numbers provided will populate a window on the dispatcher’s computer screen with the information submitted.

For more information, contact Brandon Martin, Public Relations and Community Liaison at (276) 634-2573 or email bmartin.co.henry.va.us.