Text to 911 service starts in county
Denton dispatchers respond to a Denton Record-Chronicle test 911 text call to show how the system works Monday afternoon.
Option should benefit callers with speech, hearing problems
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe Staff Writer [email protected]
October 3, 2016
Beginning this week, emergency dispatchers can take a text message.
The DenCo Area 9-1-1 District announced the new capability Monday. Anyone in Denton County or the city of Carrollton can text their emergency to 911, if their phone is set up for texting.
The system should benefit most those callers who have hearing or speech impairments. People with such disabilities frequently rely on intermediaries — either family members or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf services — when calling for help, slowing the response to their emergency.
“There’s no question in our mind that lives will be saved with this new service,” said Greg Ballentine, deputy executive director for DenCo Area 9-1-1 District.
Although there may be a rare situation where other callers might use text — a home-invasion victim, for example, who needs to make a silent call for help — dispatchers say voice calls are best.
Dispatchers often relay life-saving instructions or get answers to questions that can help paramedics or police respond more quickly. They also are trained to hear what’s going on in the background, Ballentine said.
Voice-to-voice remains the fastest way to exchange the vital information needed in an emergency situation, he said.
Text to 911 service has been in the works for several years, Ballentine said. Part of the challenge came in being able to route texts to the correct dispatch center.
For example, a text coming from someone who had a traffic crash in Lewisville needs to go to dispatchers in Lewisville. A text coming from someone who witnessed a crime in Denton needs to go to Denton dispatchers.
Denton County voters created the Denco Area 9-1-1 District in 1987 to serve the county and Carrollton.
The district provides the network, database, call processing and mapping equipment for 911 service.
The district also provides around-the-clock system support, public education and dispatcher training.
In a press release announcing the capability, Denco Area 9-1-1 District included comments from Dennae Shirley, a teacher at the Denton Regional Day School Program for the Deaf.
She was relieved to learn people now could text for help.
“With the capability for two-way texting, I can be confident my requests for emergency services will be understood,” Shirley wrote.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
Denton County Residents Can Now Text 911
October 5, 2016
People who live in Denton County and Carrollton can now text their emergency to 911.
DENCO Area 911 just brought a new system online that allows dispatchers to receive text messages directly on their screens in the various emergency communications centers within the agency’s jurisdiction.
“This is the beginning of the next generation for 911 services,” DENCO Area 911 executive director Mark Payne said.
Payne said it has taken two years to bring this technology to the area because the backbone of the previous system was based on technology from the 1950s and 1960s, as is the case at many emergency communications centers across the country.
Payne advised anyone who intends to text 911 that there are some guidelines to consider:
* Text the digits 911
* In the first message, send the location and type of emergency
* Avoid the use of slang, acronyms or abbreviations
* Be prepared to provide the dispatcher with additional information
* Follow the dispatcher’s instructions
In addition, Payne added, a voice call is still the preferred method of communicating an emergency.
“Call if you can, text if you can’t,” Payne said.
Source: Denton County Residents Can Now Text 911 | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
SOURCE #2: (Video)