Text-to-911 a new way to reach emergency services | Searcy Law

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Emilio Diamantis

Text-to-911: Could Help Save Lives — Still too new to know

A new way of reaching emergency services is coming to parts of Florida, and is due to help save lives and make residents safer.

Reports from the Palm Beach Post show that local government is funding a ‘text to 911’ project with state money. While reports earlier in May indicated the system wasn’t “ready for prime time,” advancements have been made since then, and state officials are setting their eyes on 2015 for the unrolling of these new 911 services.

Text to 911 and State Initiatives

Vermont has pioneered the statewide implementation of texting systems for emergency services. Other states are trying to catch up as major carriers sign onto these efforts.

The Federal Communications Commission is calling for national implementation and implementation by all carriers. Officials and others are becoming aware that having newer technologies involved in 911 response can save lives, while making it easier for front-line workers to understand what’s happening at a remote location. The delicate triage that is part of emergency response can be well served by a multichannel approach, where, for instance, a texted address can be much clearer than a verbally delivered address or locator.


Why Text to 911 Makes a Difference

In a lot of cases, people may be having trouble with voice communications. Reception may be difficult or they made have problems understanding or being understood, because of background noise, non-native English or other problems. In these cases, text messaging emergency services can be a critical option.

Officials are asking people to call 911 first, and only use the texting services if they have trouble with a voice line.

Call to 911 Still the Best

A voice call to 911 is still the best. It allows operators to obtain more information; parse real from imagined emergencies; and prioritize resources.

Also, remember that texting while driving is always the wrong decision.

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