Calhoun County launches new 911 texting service

Miranda Prescott, News Correspondent

Calhoun County 911 has implemented a new texting service known as Text-to-911 that became available to the residents of the county starting October 4.

Kevin Jenkins, the agency director of Calhoun County 911, explained how the system works.

Text-to-911 allows a mobile cellular device to directly reach an emergency call taker by sending a text message to “9-1-1,” said Jenkins. “Once contact to 9-1-1 is initiated, the GPS location of the device is usually available to 9-1-1 operators.”

However, Calhoun County is stressing that this new texting service should not replace a traditional voice call in the event of an emergency. In fact, it is emphasized that voice calling is still the best method for reaching emergency services.

“PLEASE remember a VOICE TELEPHONE CALL to 9-1-1 is always best.” the department explained in a Facebook post. “Text-to-911 is most useful when it is unsafe to speak on the telephone.”

Text-to-911 is most beneficial when the caller cannot speak,” said Jenkins. Here are some examples where Text-to-911 is advised: an emergency situation where the caller is unable to speak aloud for fear of their personal safety or instances where the caller has a hearing impairment.”

The Facebook post also notes that it is an easier way for those who are hearing-impaired to contact them. Jenkins said they will greatly benefit when using the texting system.

Hearing impaired person will greatly benefit by using Text-to-911 because it does not require the use of translator services such as TDD/TTY equipment,”  said Jenkins. This speeds accessibility to report an emergency.

Jenkins believes that there will be a significant impact on the community by using this new system. 

These innovations extend the 9-1-1 service of reporting an emergency to allow voiceless contact whenever the caller is unable to speak for whatever the reason,” said Jenkins. “It is an enhancement to our ability to effectively protect the public and our citizens during an emergency.”

As for how students on campus would be impacted, Jacksonville State University Police Department Chief Rob Schaffer believes it will have great benefits for students.

“Texting has become a preferred way of communicating,” said Schaffer. “Any system that can make students safer is a good one.”

For more information on Calhoun County 911 or Text-to-911, visit their website at http://www.calhoun911.org/welcome.php.

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