Using 911: If you can’t call, text

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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Peter Kaspari

Those who need immediate assistance of Webster County first responders now have a new way of getting ahold of emergency crews: They can text to 911.

The service, which is being promoted as “911: Call if you can, text if you can’t,” has already been used by Webster County residents, according to Scott Forbes, Webster County emergency management coordinator.

The process of implementing texting to 911 has been ongoing for about six years, when the state started upgrading the 911 network.

“It’s coordinating between the equipment at all the answering points, which are dispatch centers, as well as wireless providers,” Forbes said.

All six wireless providers in Iowa are able to text to 911 in Webster County.

It was decided to add the ability to text 911 to add another way of getting help.

“It can be helpful if you’re deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability or if making a voice call to 911 would be dangerous to yourself or not possible,” he said.

It’s still recommended, when possible, to dial 911, he said.

That’s because texting to 911 has a disadvantage in that dispatchers can’t tell where the text is coming from.

“All you’re going to see is the number and the communication with that number,” Forbes said.

That’s why, if people absolutely need to use texting to 911, they should include their location.

Full article.

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