Metro citizens now have the capability to text their 911 emergencies. Officials for Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan counties announced on Monday the Text-to-911 services.
“When it’s your worst day,” said Brent Hawkinson, Assoc. of Central OK Governments. “We want that system to work 100 percent of the time.”
After months of planning and two weeks of testing, Oklahoma City and 21 911 centers across the metro entered a new era.
“Ok was it a male or female that stole the items?”
Dispatchers will still take calls and they can also answer emergencies through text.
“We recognize there are individuals in situations who may not be able to make phone calls with their voice,” said Jamie O’Leary, Oklahoma City Police Department 911 Director.
Text-to-911 is aimed at helping citizens who are hearing or speech impaired or those who cannot safely make a phone call. It is not a coincidence the system rolled out during Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Edmond police were the first metro department to answer a 911 text during a dangerous domestic situation on Sunday.
“She called in originally and said he strangled her,” said Emily Ward with the Edmond Police Department. “And that she was afraid of him and needed help.”
The victim began texting because she was in the car with the alleged abuser. Through a program called Rapid SOS, authorities were able to pinpoint the car.
“Through those texts we dispatched our officers out to that location and were able to intercept the vehicle at that time,” said Ward. “This is exactly what this was made for. Situations like this.”
Officials want to remind the public that a voice call is always best and there are limitations in the Text-to-911-system.
“Texts are limited to our facility to 160 characters,” said O’Leary. “We do not receive emojis or videos. We do not receive photographs.”
O’Leary said dispatchers cannot provide translation services through texts. She asked that non-English speakers text their address and if they need police, fire or EMSA.