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Statewide System Allows Residents to Send Text Messages to 911

Posted: Thursday, October 12th, 2017 at 6:28 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

When you’re caught in a life-threatening or emergency situation and you can’t speak on the phone, there’s now another option for Iowans to reach for help.

Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg announced this week Text-to-911, a statewide system that allows cell phone users to send text messages to 911 in an emergency. Louisa County Head of Dispatch Kenny Marlette explains when this tool is crucial, “I think it will be beneficial for the aspect of when your victim doesn’t want somebody to know that they’re calling you, whether it might be a domestic situation, you’ll be able to text and not have that subject hear you.”

Right now 94 of Iowa’s 113 emergency call centers are able to accept text messages from at least one cell phone carrier; including Louisa, Keokuk, and Iowa Counties. Washington County Communications Supervisor Cara Sorrells says they are in the process of installing and testing the system, which should be running in the next few weeks. Text-to-911 is a nationwide initiative overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Residents in counties currently accepting texts to 911 can check with their cell phone carrier to find out about availability in their area.