Ore. counties launch 911 texting service

Dispatch centers emphasize the slogan: “Call if you can, text if you can’t”

By EMS1 Staff

MARION COUNTY, Ore. — Several rural Oregon counties activated a  911 texting service Aug. 23 as a second option for the public. 

The program, launched with the slogan “Call if you can, text if you can’t,” is intended to offer those who may be in remote areas or dangerous situations the ability to text if they are unable to place calls, reported 12 News

The METCOM 911 dispatch center in Marion County is one of the agencies participating in the 911 texting program. 

“Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially younger people and members of the deaf and hard of hearing and speech disabilities community,” said the center’s director, Gina Audritsh. 

The pilot texting program is unable to receive multimedia messages, including photos, videos or emojis. Dispatchers won’t receive messages if the text is from a phone in roaming mode or sent in a group message. Instead, the text won’t go through and will inform the sender of the failed attempt.

The texts are sent to a 911 text control center, which then forwards them to local dispatch centers via an internet-based application. If a user is out of the service area or no internet connection is available, they will receive a “failure to send” notification. 

Although the service will provide individuals in domestic violence or home invasion situations a safe way of contacting 911, Audritsh emphasizes that, “voice communication is best, if possible.”

Another dispatch center, Willamette Valley Communications Center, intends to launch the same program in Salem, Polk County and Lincoln County in the next three to six months, reported 12 News.

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