How the ability to text 911 enhances safety

How the ability to text 911 enhances safety

NEGAUNEE — Last week we told you about a new way to contact the police in case of an emergency, and today we got to see it in action.

Members of the public can now text 911 in case of an emergency. The slogan being used says to call if you can and text if you can’t. The feature is beneficial to those with hearing problems, and others as well.

“Some examples would be if you’re in an area where cell service is weak and you can’t make a voice call,” said Gary Johnson, Marquette County Central Dispatch Manager, “most likely you’ll be able to send a text message. Or you’re in a situation where maybe you have an intruder in your house and you don’t want them to hear that you’re in the house also, you can now silently send us a text message and we can get that help to you.”

Once again, a phone call is the preferred when possible, since texting will take more time. When a text message is sent to 911, it appears on a monitor in central dispatch with an alert tone and dispatchers are able to respond with either pre-written questions or choose their own response. Text emergencies are not expected to be used frequently, but dispatchers are thrilled to have this option to be used if necessary.