INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana residents with Verizon Wireless service can now text 911 dispatchers
in nearly a third of the state’s counties as part of a push that will
benefit the deaf, those with speech-impairments or people in hostage
situations who are unable to speak to dispatchers.
Statewide 911 Board
Executive Director Barry Ritter said that as of Wednesday morning emergency
dispatchers in 28 Indiana counties had been equipped and trained to handle
working with its technology partner TeleCommunication Systems, is the first
carrier providing the 911-texting service. But T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T are
also moving ahead to provide the option across Indiana.
Ritter said 66
Indiana counties have agreed to train dispatchers for 911-testing and are at
various stages of implementing the service, while the state’s remaining 26
counties are moving toward adopting the texting option.
“Our goal is to
have the entire state up and running by the end of the year,” he said.
Three counties that
are among Indiana’s most populated - Marion, Lake and St. Joseph - are
holding off as they deal with operational issues or consolidation of their
911 centers, officials said.
Anyone who attempts
to text 911 in a county that doesn’t have that capability will receive a
bounce-back message saying to call 911, Ritter said.
INdigital Telecom operates the statewide IN911 network. The company designed
and supports the text-to-911 software. A demonstration of that technology
shows it takes 20 to 30 seconds from sending a text for it to be received at
a 911 center.
911-texting will allow people who are deaf, hearing- or speech-impaired to
alert dispatchers of emergencies. It could also help people who are unable
to speak due to injuries or, for example, who are afraid to speak in hostage
officials cautioned, however, that in most cases people who can should call
911, rather than send a text message.
circumstances a call is best,” said State Police Captain David Bursten.
Ritter said voice
calls to 911 allow dispatchers to more accurately locate the source of a
call, and also allow them to hear the environment behind the caller or other
clues they can pass on to first responders headed to the scene.
“They can hear the
inflection in the caller’s voice, whereas in a text message they miss all
that,” he said.