Text 911 now available in Clarendon
by Robert Joseph Baker | February 27, 2017 10:54 am
Clarendon County residents facing emergency situations now have another way to notify authorities.
“Text 911 is now available through the dispatch office,” said Clarendon County Administrator David Epperson. “Cell phone carriers of AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Spring can use it. It took a while to get all the carriers to work it through their system, but it is now up and running.”
Epperson said the system was put in place for “anyone not able to call 911 when they need to.”
“For those hearing impaired, or those in a situation where they may not be able to call, they can text 911 and dispatch will communicate back and forth through texting,” Epperson said. “They will go back and forth. The dispatcher types in a reply, and then the person texting 911 will reply, and so on.”
Clarendon County Emergency Services Director Anthony Mack said the system is made possible by utilizing Voice Over Internet Protocol technology provided by West Inc.
“The new phone system operates on the West VOIP network which has Next Generation 911 capabilities,” he said. “The new Viper phone system replaces an existing phone system which was soon not to be technically supported for 911 use. The new 911 phone system was acquired through use of local 911 funding and state funding. The State 911 Office provided 80 percent reimbursement on the funds that were expended locally.”
Mack reiterated Epperson’s statement that the new system will be beneficial to residents who might not otherwise be able to call 911 directly.
“According to the Federal Communications Commission website, texting to 911 could be helpful if an individual is deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, or if a voice call to 911 might otherwise be dangerous or impossible,” he said.
However, Mack noted that those able to call 911 should still do so.
“But if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911,” he said. “Voice calls are usually more efficient than texting. Voice calls typically provide location data on the caller which is helpful in coordination of a more efficient and timely response. The caller who makes a voice call will be able to share pertinent information with a 911 dispatcher which helps to ensure the proper first response personnel is dispatched.”