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Dubois Residents Can Text 911
Updated October 16, 2014 11:24 AM
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(DUBOIS CO.) - Dubois County residents can now text emergencies to the Dubois County 911 Communications Center, but according to Janice Love, director of Dubois County 911 Call Centers, the service should only be used in certain circumstances.

Love stresses voice phone calls to 911 to report an emergency is best for many reason, including the time delay ti takes to type back and forth between the caller and the dispatcher. Therefore, if a person is able to call 911 in an emergency, they should do so.

The Dubois County Free Press reports, that the new service is helpful in situations like when the caller is deaf, hearing or speech impaired; if a caller is otherwise unable to speak due to a medical condition; or if speaking would be unsafe for the caller, as in the case of abduction or home invasion.

For most others, a voice call to 911 should be made when reporting an emergency.

The service is available to the four major providers, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but is not currently available on some of the prepaid carriers like the Straight Talk service provided by Walmart.

"The big four entered into a voluntary agreement with the FCC to provide the service," Barry Ritter, Executive Director of the Indiana Statewide 911 Board says.

According to Ritter, the FCC is working on regulation that may mandate all cellular carriers provide the text-to-911 service but at this time it is only a voluntary agreement between those four major carriers and the FCC. Other smaller cellular carriers have until 2015 to potentially submit interest to take part in the service.

People who use the new text service to report an emergency will open their texting service on their smartphone and dial 911 as the address for the text.

When they text, the dispatcher will need to know the problem and the exact location of the texter in the initial text. Due to the lag involved in texting, this could save precious moments in which the dispatcher could be sending or notifying the appropriate authorities of the emergency.

Additionally, giving a good location is critical due to location technology on cell phone calls rarely being completely accurate. A vague or bad location would again waste more time for emergency responders attempting to help.
When giving the location, the texter should include the city or town of the location since many cities and towns share the same street names.

Those texting should never use slang or abbreviations in their messages to 911. Information should be clear and accurate. Texters should be aware of autocorrect; words that are accidentally changed from the original intent could change the response completely.

Texting from a downloaded application like Whatsapp, Skype, or Kik will not work with this technology, the text must come through the phone's messaging (SMS) service.

IMessage, Apple's popular messaging app available for iPhones and iPads, will send text messages to the 911 service from the phone, but it will not work on an iPad or Apple computer application. An iPhone recognizes when a message is being sent to another phone via SMS, but the iPad and computer do not have that capability.

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