TTYL: 911 to get text messages

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – When it comes to getting help, what you used to say, you’ll soon be able to send.

In a few months, Montgomery County will be able to receive 911 text messages.

Officials say the texts will be important for the hearing impaired but could be used in other situations as well.

“We think there’s also other times where people need to remain quiet, it maybe safer for them during a home invasion, or a burglary in progress, maybe a domestic violence,” says Captain Matt Haines with Montgomery County Regional Dispatch.

The texts will pop up on dispatcher’s screens. They will be able to text you back, but just like when you call 911 with a cell phone, when you text dispatchers there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to find where you are without you telling them.

“One of the first questions will still be what’s the location of your emergency,” Haines says.

Haines says he doesn’t think they’ll get a lot of text messages. We wanted to know how big of a problem fake messages will be.

“Anytime you have new opportunities you have the opportunity for people to misuse it,” Haines says. “We’re hoping people are sensible and only use it when there’s a true emergency.”

Haines says while the texts will be useful, calling 911 is still the best way to go.

“It’s always better to get your information via a phone call than a text message so we want to reserve this for when people don’t have any other option,” Haines says.

The texting capability comes along with a new phone system that will cost $1.1 million.

Haines says the system will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs.

They expect to be ready to receive texts in August or September.

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