Abilene, TX- Abilene dispatch will soon be able to accept text messages, videos and pictures. With a new system called Next Generation 911 anyone can text for help without making a call. The system is set to be working for the Abilene dispatch center by May of this year. There are already several other cities across the country that have started this program. This will also benefit citizens who are of the speech and hearing impaired. Now, they use a similar system but using their cell phone will be much easier.
Dispatch will see the text pop up on their screen. The message comes in like a call. They will also be able to write back to the sender and notify that help is on the way. Wayne Brandt, Director of Communication with Abilene Dispatch says they've know for a while that this system was under way and they are anxious for it to start. He also said that the message they are trying to relay is "call if you can, text if you can't."
He said because texting will be accepted now, it could cause some issues. People may send texts that aren't emergencies or there could also be pocket dials here and there. There have been accidents in the past, for instance, the Virginia Tech shooting when people actually tried texting for help because if they made a call the shooter would have heard them.
The program is expected to begin sometime in May but Brandt was not positive of exactly when. It's been a long process, but a text could now save someone's life.