Franklin County Emergency Center Offers 911 Texting


FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. - Most of us text nowadays, no matter where we are or how old we are.

It is the modern way for many of us to talk to each other and now, the Franklin County Emergency Services Center has picked that up.

The center has partnered with Verizon Wireless, starting a new feature called the "Next Generation" in 911 calls using texting.

"You would text 911 with your emergency. It'll come up with our TTY system which is a telephone used for deaf and it'll come up on our screen and it looks like a chat box," said Meghan O'Brien, assistant director of Franklin County Emergency Services.

Other service providers such as: T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T will follow Verizon Wireless most likely within the next several months.

This would be very helpful for people who are in need of help, but are unable to talk or who are deaf.

O'Brien adds, "They might be having a medical emergency where they're unable to talk and being able to text, they can s till be able to contact 911 and get help."

O'Brien does not see this new feature overshadowing calls into their 911 center but this new feature does coincide with their current TTY system. Therefore, dispatchers have been using the software for several years.

However, it does come with a set of downfalls as well.

"When you talk to someone, you can tell by their voice of what's going on if they're scared. We can try and calm them down. You're unable to do that over text messaging," said O'Brien.

It is simply just another way for dispatchers to save a life while adapting to the modern world of technology.

All 911 call centers are looking at this new way to communicate with people. Frederick County, Maryland has also implemented the texting 911 feature approximately two years ago. May 15, 2014 is the deadline for all providers to be on this feature but that will be subject to change.

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