The Beavercreek Police Department is the first Greene County agency to begin utilizing text messaging to improve public safety. Residents can now text “9-1-1” for help, although authorities caution that this additional service is not a replacement for an actual phone call. “Text to 9-1-1 service will enable our citizens to use their mobile devices to send a text directly to our public safety dispatch center in an emergency situation,” Beavercreek Chief of Police Dennis Evers said.
With this new technology capability, there are some important ground rules to keep mind:
- Keep text messages short to prevent your cell phone carrier from breaking them up;
- Be succinct and very clear telling what the problem is and your location; and
- Spell out words and avoid slang or emojis which can cause confusion.
Chief Evers stresses that “texters” must stay engaged with the dispatcher after sending the first text message.
“Current mobile device technology isn’t quite to the level where it’s guaranteed that responders will know exactly where you are. It’s vital that you’re able to tell us exactly where you are and what your emergency is so we can reach you and help you with whatever situation you’re in,” Chief Evers said.
“Text to 9-1-1” was developed as a way to enhance current 9-1-1 services enabling people who are hearing or speech-impaired, unable to call during a medical emergency, or who might be put in danger by being overheard calling 9-1-1 to summon help.
While this new technology is exciting, law enforcement stresses that this is not a replacement for the 9-1-1 phone call. Text messages often can be delayed through relaying cell towers or when you reach one agency but then have to be transferred to the correct agency. Even a short delay like that could mean the difference between life and death.
If you attempt to send a text to 9-1-1 and are not within the jurisdictional boundaries of a dispatch center capable of receiving texts, you will receive an automatic “bounce back” message instructing you to call 9-1-1.
The “Text to 9-1-1” service is currently available to anyone with a Verizon, AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, or T-Mobile data plan.
Look for more agencies to welcome 9-1-1 transmission to the original calling feature.
**This information was provided by a press release provided on December 16, 2016.