Emergency Services Will Soon Be Just A Text Away

**Originally published 1/2/2018. Updated on 4/11/2018.**

Technology is ever changing our world and the way we interact with it. Soon, Central Ohioans will have the option to text 911 emergency services instead of calling.

This new feature, which will make it’s Franklin County debut on June 1, will allow for individuals who cannot safely make a call to send a text instead.

“You can send information to police without holding a phone to your ear, very covertly,” Ramona Patts, an administrator in the Columbus Division of Support Services, told The Dispatch. “You can actually send it and nobody would know you’re sending it.”

Although phone calls are still the preferred method of communication, allowing people to get help via text will give people an opportunity to get help quietly. It’s also a great service for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

911 operators will access the texts on their computer screen, with options for both pre-written responses and custom messages.

After the program is rolled out and established, the centers should be able to receive photos as well, but for now, only text messages will come through.

Columbus, Dublin, and the Metropolitan Emergency Consortium Communications (MECC) in Gahanna will be the three primary dispatch hubs for Central Ohio. Other local governments, including Franklin County and the Ohio State University, will be able to tap into those dispatch centers.

Text-to-911 programs are available in select locations throughout the country already. Programs like the one from Rutgers, shown in the video above, give Franklin County residents a chance to see the new system in action. The FCC requires that all service providers that support texting to and from U.S. phone numbers.

Franklin County is one of 11 counties in the state implementing the text-to-911 service.

Stay safe out there, Columbus!

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