Texting 911?

TUNKHANNOCK– There may be some big changes down the road for 911 dispatchers.

On Monday, Vermont became the first state to allow statewide texting to 911.

In Pennsylvania there are only a handful of counties that allow you to text 911– none are in our area — but many are looking toward the future.

Newswatch 16 talked to people in Wyoming County who have mixed reactions about possibly being able to call 911 one day.

“If they text, they have to text back. If I’m calling, you can answer it right there and then,” Bob Stover of Falls said.

“There is a lot of situations that you could be in, like very harmful situations that you just have to be quiet and you don’t want anyone to know where you are. So I think it’s a good idea,” Kayla Morrers of Tunkhannock said.

Last week four major cell phone providers — Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile — all voluntarily committed to allowing users to text 911.

In order for that to happen, 911 centers must have the technology required, which, so far, many do not.

Officials at the 911 center in Wyoming County say they see benefits and disadvantages when it comes to text messaging 911 for help.

“You miss the voice, the voice inflections, the background noise that you would hear when they’re calling in so I think there is good and bad,” Debi Raimoni said.

“It’s got great advantages for hostage situations or someone who has been kidnapped and is unable to speak. They may be able to text where they’re at in the emergency that is going on,” Jeff Porter said.

911 officials in Wyoming County say there are still a lot of things that have to be figured out with 911 texting, not just for them but for everyone.

“Not only training for our people, but training for the public. What kind of information we would need. What is more important, what should come first in your text messages,” Raimoni said.

The Wyoming County 911 Center will be soon switching its phone system to a new one that will allow them to receive text messages.

There is no timetable as to when they will begin receiving messages. Officials say it is something that could take a few months to a few years.

1 Comment

  • Nicky

    Seems the negative is focused on the amount of time it would take to get a reply. Lets consider someone who could be speach impared. What happens if a mute requires the services of 911? I think the capability could certainly be beneficial…life saving even.

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