Beginning last week, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office inaugurated a feature that allows citizens a new way to call for help on “911.”
The Department says their slogan now is “Call if you can; Text if you can’t.”
Summit County’s Public Safety Communications Center went live on Jan. 13th with what they call Next Generation 911, which means they can now accept 911 text messages.
Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said the feature is designed for those citizens who may not be able to verbally call 911.
“If someone were involve, for example, in a domestic violence situation, and they didn’t have the ability to make the phone call, they are able now to send that text message. Again, if someone is deaf or is hard of hearing, they’re able to utilize that same technology, where as in the past we had to use other resources which took longer, for someone that may have a hearing impairment to reach our 911 center.”
Lt. Wright explained how it works.
“To put 911 into the “to” field—the same spot that you would put your friend or family member when you’re going to send them a text message. Once you’ve put 911 just down in the text portion where you will type your message, is where you start texting our 911 operator.”
They advise that the text messages should be brief, concise, use simple words and include the location of the emergency.
A user needs to have a text or data plan to place a 911. Photos and videos cannot be sent. And certainly, do not text and drive.
The Lieutenant said another feature will be helpful.
“It has an enhance-location, basically, accuracy. So if someone is on the phone or texting, it is picking up data from that mobile device, and is zeroing in on the location of that person. It allows our responders to get there much quicker, it creates a more safe response for our first responders as they understand exactly where they’re going.”
Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright.