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Text-to-911 System Implemented in Washington County

Posted: Thursday, April 26th, 2018 at 6:27 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

Sandy Lovetinsky is a dispatcher for the Washington County Communications Center. Photo by Sam McIntosh.

April is designated as 911 Education Month in Iowa, and Washington County is one of several in the state that have upgraded their system to address a variety of emergency situations.

Washington County has recently implemented the Text-to-911 system, which allows residents to send text messages from their cell phones to 911 when they are unable to make a phone call. Washington County Dispatcher Sandy Lovetinsky describes how the system works, “We answer the call on our screen, and it’s just like we’re texting only we have a keyboard and you’ve got your little bitty phone. We just text back and forth and figure out what’s going on, and if we can’t get out of you what’s going on at least we can get the address and send an officer over to figure out whether you need medical or fire or police.”

Iowa’s 911 program manager Blake DeRouchey stresses that the preferred method of requesting assistance is to call, but there are instances where it’s not always possible to make a voice call. Text-to-911 is primarily for citizens who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech impaired, but can also be used in situations in which a voice call would endanger the caller, such as during a home invasion or domestic abuse situation. Text-to-911 is available to AT&T, i-Wireless, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon customers.