Text-to-9-1-1 service available in some Brazos Valley counties - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Text-to-9-1-1 service available in some Brazos Valley counties

(Source: MGN) (Source: MGN)
(KXXV) -

If you live in the Brazos Valley, you can now text to 911 during an emergency, if you can't make a call.

A Brazos Valley Council of Governments Regional 911 Program news release said Text-to-9-1-1 service is now available in several Brazos Valley counties, including Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties.

You do not need to add or update your cell phone to use the service. In the recipient field enter 911, compose the message and push send. The system BVCOG is using is called VESTA® 9-1-1. Once you send your text, the VESTA 9-1-1 system sends an automated message asking you the address of the emergency. This starts the text session between you and 911.

"We've already received several text messages. All of the centers have. I think it will only increase as they become more confident in it," Anita Pitt, 9-1-1 Program Manager said.

You should only use Text-to-9-1-1 during an emergency if you're not able to speak. Authorities said those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired can use it. They added it's also useful during child abduction, active shooter and domestic abuse situations, plus hurricanes or other disasters.

Dispatchers said making a phone call is still the best way to contact 9-1-1.

"We can process those calls so much faster and the information that we get is going to be faster, accurate and that's the ultimate goal. It's to get help to someone who needs it quickly," Laura Blackburn, Associate Director at the Brazos County 9-1-1 District, said. 

During the May storms, Jarod Hartfield, a dispatcher for Washington County, was able to use the texting function for a man with a medical call. 

"There was such a heavy call volume during the flood that he couldn't get through because all the lines were busy, but text was going through. It happened to be another option," Hartfield said.

Things to know about texting 9-1-1:

  • 911 needs to know your exact location and the nature of your emergency.
  • Use simple language.
  • Don't use abbreviations or slang.
  • Pull over to a safe location before sending a Text-to-9-1-1.

Right now, you can only Text-to-9-1-1 through the four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless™. You will receive a ‘bounce back’ message telling you to make a voice call if you are in an area where the service is not available.

Text-to-9-1-1 is not available in Brazos County yet. Dispatchers in Brazos County said they expect to have the service available in November.

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly