McLennan County launched new feature to text 911 - KXXV Central Texas News Now

McLennan County launched new feature to text 911

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX (KXXV) -

This year marks 50 years since someone made the first 911 call in 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama. 

In McLennan County, the first 911 call was made in December 1989. Before 911, people had to memorize the numbers to call their local police and fire departments.

"Most people assume 911 has been around for a lot longer than it has been," Jesse Harrison, executive director for McLennan County 911.

Technology has changed a lot over the years, allowing dispatchers to help people in different ways. First, allowing dispatchers to see a location from a landline, then to accepting wireless calls and being able to track them.

Sandy Bickel, dispatch supervisor for Woodway Public Safety, has been a dispatcher for 17 years and has seen the way technology has changed. 

"We went from when I started (I had) two screens. You can see up to five or six screens already so we've added a lot throughout the years," Bickel said.

Today, dispatchers can track where you are when you call. McLennan County launched a new feature last week allowing people to text 911.

"It's a way for the deaf and hard of hearing community to reach emergency responders," Harrison said.

McLennan County 911 officials say while the texting option may be convenient, it's important to call 911 if you are able to.

Dispatchers across the county were individually trained on the new system over the last several months.

"You're dealing with someone (where) you can't hear their voice, you can't hear what's going on with them so you just have to really pay attention," Joanna Gilliam, public education and training coordinator for McLennan County 911, said.

Officials say if you have to text 911, do not use abbreviations or emojis in the message.

For more information about when to text 911, click here.

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