Texting your emergency to 911 could be coming soon for East Texans

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In an emergency, would you send a text message to 911? One Iowa county has implemented a new system that makes it possible, and the option may not be far away for East Texans.

"911 what is your emergency," asked one Lufkin Police Department dispatcher.

In the future, you may not hear anything when you try to contact 911, you may just see it if you decide to text your emergency.

"Well yes, text messaging is in the future for not just Angelina County or Lufkin, but also the Deep East Texas area," said Deep East Texas 911 Advisory Council Chairperson Keith Bickley.

Bickley said they're working on getting the program started, but it could take a few years because the need and the technology are there, just not the funding.

"We had a situation a few years back where there was an elderly lady that locked herself in a closet because some juveniles were in her house, and she was afraid to speak on the telephone," Bickley said.  "So, she actually pushed buttons on the phone itself, so texting is a perfect situation for situations like that."

"Have some kind of neck injury or some kind of wreck an they can't speak and they're out in nowhere, they can pick up their phone and just text," said Kendrick Thompson.

"In some ways it could be bad because it might accidentally get done, but I think it would be used for the better," said Elizabeth Hollingsworth.

Dispatchers said answering text messages may be more work, but it's work they're willing to do.

"We're just here to help so whatever way it comes in we're just here to answer the phone and take it from there to answer the text message," said Lufkin Police Department dispatcher Debbie Ernst.

It may mean a few more characters for dispatchers to deal with, but for now, you'll just have to speak.

You cannot currently text message 911. If you have an emergency, you'll have to pick up the phone.

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