Will County 911 accepts text messages
For anyone who needs help immediately, but can’t talk to a 911 dispatcher, there’s a new option starting Thursday, October 15, 2015 in Will County. “9-1-1: Call if you can, Text if you can’t”, is the new message being announced as the Will County 9-1-1 System introduces Text-to 9-1-1 Service, said Caryn DeMarco, Will County 9-1-1 Public Education Manager. DeMarco stated, “Voice Calls to 9-1-1 are still the best and fastest way to contact 9-1-1.”
Will County 9-1-1 is offering text-to-911 service for anyone within the county. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile customers can text their exact location and the nature of their emergency to 911 and a dispatcher will respond.
There are about 6,100 emergency call centers in the United States. However, Steve Figved, Chief Administrator of the Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Service, says that only about 360 of them provide the text-to-911 service.
“That puts Will County in the very enviable position of being one of the 5 percent of 911 centers in the United States that are providing this service to its citizens -- those who live, work, and visit Will County.” Figved said, “The Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board is pleased to offer this service for those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired so they can communicate with emergency services in their main form of communication.
Text messages can take longer to send or receive, so Emergency Telephone System officials say that calling 911 is still the best option. DeMarco wants to ensure that the County’s large community of wireless customers understands how to use texting to 9-1-1 in an emergency. If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a voice call, DeMarco says to remember these steps;
· Know your Location – Text your exact location
· Text what you need – Text what emergency help in needed – Police, Fire, Emergency Medical.
· Be Clear – Send a short message without abbreviations or slang.
· Stay Calm – Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
“Text only if you cannot get through by voice,” DeMarco says. Text to 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency situation, when someone is unable to speak; for instance, if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.
According to DeMarco: “This capability can be critical for residents when they have an emergency and are not able to speak — either because it is not safe, you are in danger if you speak, or you are disabled — or if cell service capability is not available but text service is.”
Figved also indicated that, similar to fake 911 calls, pranksters who text a hoax to 911 will be prosecuted. Prank texters can be located.
Will County 9-1-1 is among the first jurisdictions in the Chicago suburbs to adopt the text-to-911 program.
More information on 9-1-1 can be found at www.willcounty9-1-1.com.