NY county introduces text-to-911 technology

Users should put 911 as the recipient, fill out the message field and a dispatcher will respond with questions

By EMS1 Staff

WAYNE COUNTY, N.Y. — Citizens now have the option to text 911 during an emergency, thanks to new technology being used at the Wayne County 911 Center.

Messages to 911 can only be 140 characters, so dispatchers urge callers to first disclose their location and type of emergency to facilitate a faster response, WHEC reported.

To utilize the service, users should put 911 as the recipient and then fill out the message field. A dispatcher will continue to ask questions just like during a 911 call.

Greg DeWolfe, 911 operations manager, said the service is particularly helpful in situations where someone needs to be quiet in their location, or for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

“They don’t have a way to make a voice call to us without going through a relay service which is lengthy, delayed,” DeWolfe said. “In an emergency, time is critical.”

While the tool is useful, dispatchers encourage phone calls to 911, and to only utilize a 911 text if a phone call isn’t feasible.

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