The Associated Press
February 22, 2015
RICHMOND, IND. — All but four of Indiana’s 92 counties have signed on a system that allows phone users to send a text to 911 when they need emergency help, putting the state at the forefront of a technology that’s slowly making its way across the country.
Only Vermont and Maine have all counties accepting text messages to 911, the Palladium-Item reported (http://pinews.co/1vSsHlO ). Fifteen other states have a few counties each that participate in the “Text to 911” system.
“It will eventually make it across the nation,” said Matthew Cain, deputy director of Wayne County Emergency Communications, which volunteered to be one of five pilot counties to explore the texting option. “It’s mainly geared toward the deaf community and the hard-of-hearing community, but it also benefits others when it’s unsafe to call.”
A federal order required all wireless carriers and text-messaging providers to allow users to send texts to local 911 dispatchers by the end of 2014.
In Indiana, only Lake, Jasper, Marion and Ripley counties have not accepted the system.
Cain said calling is still the best option for contacting 911 because communication is quicker between the dispatcher and the caller. But text messages are useful when a person has a hearing or speech impairment or when it’s unsafe for a person to speak, such as in cases of an abduction or domestic situation.