LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -Dispatchers in East Texas will soon be tasked with assisting victims via text message according to Van Bush, Director of Regional 9-1-1 Network.
"The need for texting is really necessitated, but especially for the hearing and deaf community, you are encouraged to use it for other people. There are situations where it is not safe to call; for instance domestic violence situations or an active shooter,” said Bush.
Testing is currently underway with all four national carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, but officials say texting shouldn’t be the primary source for communication if you need assistance.
“Texting is what’s called a best efforts service. I don’t know if you have ever noticed it or not, but if someone will send you a text and you may get it two or three days later; there is no guarantee that text goes through,” said Bush.
Once the text program goes live in the system, it will ask you what is the location of your emergency, which Lufkin Police Department Communications Supervisor Ashley Jowell says is very vital to state first.
"The location is the absolutely most important part, because if we don’t know where you are at, we don’t know where to send anyone,” said Jowell.
The 9-1-1 text program will pop up on the same screen as regular call which will allow dispatchers to respond directly, but they do recommend using plain text.
"No text lingo, because everyone talks in different formats, no emojis; our system will not recognize emoji’s. If it does it comes into us garbled, so we really don’t know what you’re saying,” said Jowell.
Deep East Texas Region 9-1-1 Network officials are still testing all counties. The public will then be notified by their local police departments when they can start using the service.