New Hanover County is implementing a 911 text line - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Texting emergencies to 911 is becoming a reality

For now, the 911 texting capabilities will only be available to the four major cell phone carriers; Version Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T.  (Source: WECT) For now, the 911 texting capabilities will only be available to the four major cell phone carriers; Version Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

According to New Hanover County dispatch roughly 1,500 emergency calls are answered every day. But what if you are in a situation where you can't make that phone call?  New Hanover County is trying to eliminate that question by adding a texting line.

"We are in the final stages of upgrading our system, and within the next month or two we will be able to implement those text changes," said Andy Whitley, the Public Safety Data Analysis for New Hanover County.

For now, the 911 texting capabilities will only be available to the four major cell phone carriers; Version Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T. 

Texting to the 911 center is going to be much like texting a friend or family member.

You enter the number 911 into the recipient line, then text in your emergency. The new update will not have the same GPS tracking like it does for a phone call, so it's very important to text your address. 

"The address is so important," said Jordan Battle a 911 operator. "As soon as we get that address we can get someone out there to help them." 

Dispatchers think this update is not only going to help local citizens, but the 911 operators get more concrete information.

"When it's a really high stress situations, like domestic violence, people are really amped up, " explained Jordan. "With the text back and forth it will be a little bit easier to get the direct information without all of the emotions."

Dispatch said texting to 911 is expected to be available within the next three months, and they are already looking to do an even bigger upgrade.

Next Gen is another program New Hanover County is looking into.

This program wouldn't be available for another year or two, but would allow any phone, regardless of the carrier, to send and receive 911 texts.

Also, it would allow citizens to send photos and videos of the emergency.

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.

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