Emergency Text Message Alerts Come to Richardson, TX

09 May


In the event of an emergency, reaching help as quickly as possible can make all the difference when it comes to saving people’s lives. This is why many public agencies today support text-to-911 availability. Richardson, a city in North Texas, is just one of the latest places in the United States to embrace the use of emergency mobile text message alerts. Individuals in Richardson can now contact 911 from any device, any time, day or night. 

While there may be some who still prefer to make a phone call in the event of an emergency, law enforcement officials are in favor of the new text messaging system for several reasons:

Texting in an Emergency May be Safer

Emergency operators and 911 workers have pointed out that in certain dangerous situations, texting could be the only life-saving option. For instance, if the person trying to reach 911 needs to hide for his or her own safety, then talking on the phone could prove to be extremely dangerous, whereas texting can silently ensure that help is on the way.

Emergency Text Messaging for Individuals with Hearing Impairment

While deaf and hearing impaired individuals may reach 911 through TTY/TDD relay services, the unfortunate truth is that using such a system adds potentially life-threatening minutes to the time it takes to respond to emergencies. Andrew Phillips, who is an attorney for the National Association of the Deaf, says that there are unfortunate cases in which individuals with hearing impairment have had difficulty getting help quickly. This has been especially true on mobile devices, which are often better suited for texting.

Texting Capabilities and Public Expectations

The fact that smartphones today are in reality multimedia devices, allowing users to attach photos or videos that they've captured, for instance, means that mobile messaging has incredible potential as a crime-solving tool. Thanks to the new emergency text messaging initiative, it is hoped that emergency agencies in Richardson, TX and elsewhere will soon begin receiving essential photo and video data in addition to texted information about what is occurring and where.

The truth is that more and more people, especially younger individuals, expect to be able to communicate via text, regardless of what the context may be. Texting, rather than making a phone call, has increasingly become the public's first instinct, and North Texas and other areas of the country are beginning to respond to this demand. While some Richardson area public safety agencies still lack the technology for this texting system, plans to upgrade are already underway.

Logistics and Making it Work

While T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are currently the only carriers that have made the upgrades necessary for sending text messages to 911, AT&T is also making progress on similar upgrades; and Richardson's system is expected to be fully operational this summer. Once it is running, 911 call-takers will be able to receive texts and respond from their computers, asking mobile users the same questions they would ask when receiving emergency phone calls.

It will likely take some time for many local residents to get used to having text-to-911 as an option. However, emergency call workers and public safety experts believe that once people have heard local success stories, texting to 911 will become a commonly used and significant life-saving tool.

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