By: Lisa Bicknell
For more than 20 years, dispatchers at the 911 Emergency Operation Center on Broadway have been accepting calls and directing aid to those who need it.
This week CSEPP director Ronnie Riddell is announcing a new service. The public can now text 911 from their cell phones.
The service will be particularly useful in certain situations. For example, someone in a domestic abuse situation may not feel safe making a phone call, but they will now be able to text instead.
Or, suppose a home is being burglarized; an occupant of the home could text for help.
Texting 911 is also helpful for those who are speech or hearing impaired.
Also, texting 911 can be useful when a driver comes upon a wreck, although Riddell reminds not to text and drive, but to pull over first or have a passenger text.
Riddell said that Estill County is privileged to be able to offer the service, one that is only available to about half the state.
He says he is happy to offer “any avenue we can use to let the public work with us.” The service has been tested and appears to work with most main cell service providers in the area.
“We are excited to see how it works,” he said.
To text 911, simply go to your texting app and enter 911. Type your message and send. You should receive a message back from Estill Co. 911 which says, “We received a hangup call from your cell phone. Do you have an emergency?” You may then respond accordingly.
The most important information to include is:
Where you need emergency help. (Address/location)
What is the emergency? (What is happening?)
Your name and any other information you think would be helpful.
If you are texting 911 so you won’t be heard, remember to silence your phone.
If a person does not respond, location is determined by the cell tower that is hit from the text.
Lucas Barnes, an employee of CSEPP, said, “Sometimes this location is very close, but at other times it is not. It is important for the person needing help to let us know their location (as precisely as they can).”
“Rapid SOS will also be live in the coming weeks and will help give us more accurate locations,” said Barnes.
He described Rapid SOS as a software program to give 911 dispatchers access to more accurate location information.
“RapidSOS is a free tool to tag along with Texty and the new phone system. This is next generation 911 technology, a huge upgrade for a community of our size,” said Barnes.