Reaching out for help in Saline County can now be done by texting 911 from a cell phone.
Police Captain Mike Sweeney tells KSAL News that a recent upgrade to equipment at SPD’s Emergency Communication Center allows dispatchers to receive 911 texts and then send help.
Captain Sweeney says sending a text could be lifesaving in situations where they don’t feel safe to speak, “If a clerk feels threatened by a person in their store but don’t want to call police in front of them – they could send 911 a text to send an officer over,” he said.
Sweeney added the system also benefits citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking.
Authorities say 911 texting still has its limitations, because it won’t allow photo send, video, emoticons or multiple recipients. If for some reason the 911 texting is not available – callers will receive a bounce-back text message instructing them to make a voice call to 911.
Sweeney tells KSAL News that voice calls to 911 are still the best way to communicate and allow dispatchers to gather more information, like location of the caller. Text messages do not transmit the sender’s location.
Sweeney adds some do’s and don’ts to texting 911.
Enter the phone number 911 with no dashes.
Provide your address or location and describe the help you need. Be brief, but don’t use abbreviations or slang.
Watch for a reply text from 911 call center.
Use the English language if possible.