Call for help in a text

Send a text to get help, you bet, as Garvin County's 911 dispatch center is just days away from launching the start of this new feature.

Tuesday, Oct. 1 is the official start as anyone in Garvin County will be able contact 911 by way of a text.

“Basically it's just like sending a text to anyone else,” said Billie Webb, coordinator of the county 911 center housed in Pauls Valley.

“It's just a text, but it's good to includes more information, like the location, the city, what type of help is needed.

“Address and the city and the type of emergency is most important.”

A system already tested throughout different parts of Garvin County and ready to go, dispatchers are trained to text back with some “standard” questions also used when a 911 phone call is received.

What's needed – the caller's name, phone number and other information the dispatcher might need to verify.

“We would ask that you text simple wording, no abbreviations. The dispatcher will let them know that help is on the way before they make it clear they're ending the text.”

Even with the text feature being added Webb says the best way to contact 911 and report an emergency is still by way of a phone call.

She's quick to add there are some exceptions, especially those on the potentially dangerous side.

“A voice call is still the best way,” Webb said.

“Texting is really only for some situations when you can't call. This will be beneficial to people when talking can put them in danger.”

Some examples might be a home invasion when the suspects are still inside, domestic abuse situations or even the potentially deadly active shooter scenario.

“It's going to help the 911 center help those who are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability.”

Webb is quick to remind the public one important thing that won't likely be changing anytime soon, “Don't text and drive.”

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