Texting 9-1-1 Could Soon be a Reality


This spring you should be able to communicate with 9-1-1 dispatchers through text messages.

Vernon and Wichita Falls police departments are in the preliminary stages of testing the new technology.

There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the text message 9-1-1 system. Most the responsibility to implement the system around the nation is on the phone service carriers, not the public dispatch centers.

When the system is up and running you will be able to send a text message to 9-1-1 dispatchers, who will message you back through the same system they currently use to communicate with people who are deaf.

Dispatchers will gather as much information as they can and send the help you need just like if you had called.

9-1-1 texting would be used in situation where people are unable to talk, or for reasons of safety, don't want someone to hear them.

But SGT. John Spragins with the WFPD says if you can, making a call will still be your best option.  Using that method make it is easier to get information and track your location.

“When you do a voice call to 9-1-1, we have the enhanced 9-1-1 system which will give us a general idea of your location, based on GPS and what cell phone towers you are hitting off of. With this, with the text, it doesn't necessarily get that information,” says Sgt. Spragins.

The new system is being tested through Verizon Wireless right now but Sprint, AT&T and T – Mobile have also voluntarily committed to make 9-1-1 texting available by May 15th. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be available everywhere. The local 9-1-1 centers must have the technology to receive the messages.

And just to reiterate this technology is not available right now, so if you have an emergency you should continue to dial 9-1-1. But, it should be available in the next few months.

We will be following this story and will let you know when the text message system is up and running.

The text 9-1-1 program is being monitored by the Federal Communications Commission.

If you want more information visit their website.

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