Lackawanna County activates Text to 9-1-1 system

First Posted: 11/12/2014

Lackawanna County is first in the state to place into service a fully integrated, Next Generation 9-1-1 call handling system for its Department of Emergency Services.

The call handling solution will offer 9-1-1 call handling, more efficient work-flow management and new capacities, such as Text to 9-1-1. The programs gives the county greater efficiency and the ability to receive text messages, which can be an essential lifeline in situations where a voice call cannot be made safely. This is especially significant when the caller cannot communicate verbally, such as the case of residents that are hard of hearing, deaf or speech-impaired.

Text to 9-1-1 could also assist in situations when a caller is either injured and unable to speak or when a crime is in progress and cannot talk.

Although Text to 9-1-1 is available, however, the department says the best way to contact Emergency Services is still via voice communications.

Directions on how to text to 9-1-1 in an emergency are as follows:

• Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.

• The first text message to 911 should be brief, concise and contain in simple words the location of the emergency and type of help needed.

• Push the “Send” button.

• Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.

• Abbreviations should not be used.

Important notes and guidelines for those using Text to 9-1-1:

• Text location information is not equal to current location technology.

• As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive and can get out of order.

• Text-to-9-1-1 is not available when roaming.

• A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1

• If texting to 911 is not available in your area or is temporarily unavailable, a message will be sent telling the individual to contact 911 by other means.

• Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at the present time.

• Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than one person.

• As always, the public is encouraged to never text and drive.

Text to 9-1-1 is for emergency calls only and text messages are handled as if they were voice calls. They are recorded, logged and maintained for months. Once the 911 system is activated via Text to 9-1-1, subscriber information, GPS location and phone number are logged in. A crank or a false text message is handled as if it were a false or crank voice call. Police will be contacted to investigate.

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