911 moves toward texting technology - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

911 moves toward texting technology

Chief Ron Rowe (WALB image) Chief Ron Rowe (WALB image)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

If you're in the middle of an emergency and you can't talk to Albany 911 dispatchers, you can't text, but that could change soon.

 The issue of Texting to 911 got more attention during the Pulse Shooting in Orlando, when victims were hiding in the same room as the gunman, trying to get help without talking. As communication technology improves, 911 centers try to keep pace to protect lives.

Right now the Albany 911 center is like 90 percent of emergency dispatch centers in the country, unable to receive texts for emergency requests.  But work is underway to get that service.

Albany Fire Chief Ron Rowe said "We are in the process of obtaining that service.  It's not a short process.  It will take several months."
During America's worst mass shooting, in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, several victims attempted texting 911, only to learn the city did not have that service.

Unable to talk because the gunman was in the same room, many texted family members asking to relay for help.

Albany officials had already started work to solve that issue. Rowe said "We've gone from land lines, to cell phones. So now we are moving toward texts.  Possibly even video in this same system.  So it's just a matter of a lot faster communication process to get your help quicker, wherever you may be."

In today's communication, many people think text before phone call, so first responders are reacting.  Funding, installation, and training for dispatchers are needed, but officials hope to have text capability within the next year. 

And besides texts, the 911 upgrades should allow people to send video to the dispatchers, so first responders can see the situation before they even arrive.

Speaking of communication, the Albany Police Department currently does not have a text capability, but they remind that people can communicate with them through social media on Facebook and Twitter. 

So communicating with first responders is changing rapidly.

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