Southeast Region 911 launches text to 911 service

January 23, 2019

A new option is available when an emergency happens and those involved are unable to call 911.

Southeast Region 911 launched an initiative called Text to 911 for its 16 counties in southeast Nebraska. At this time, Text-to-911 service is available to the public, through most wireless carriers in the southeast region.

Carla Jones, Communications director of Southeast Communications in Beatrice, said the service is a welcome addition to the department.

“It is helpful in certain situations where the party is unable to call,” she said. “There have been cases out west that there was child texting in the backseat to 911 because a parent was driving drunk. Also in domestic violence situations or kidnappings.”

Text to 911 is the next step in accessing emergency services as technology advances, according to a press release.

Officials stress that texting 911 is not meant to take the place of calling 911 using standard voice calls.

“We always stress that if you can call, call because it’s faster,” Jones said. “There’s a little bit of lag time for texts to 911 and we have to text the response. Verbal is always better.”

One reason responders prefer calls to texts is location acquisition is much more limited and often not available, according to the press release, whereas voice 911 will typically provide good location information as to the caller’s whereabouts.

There is also no guarantee a text will make it to an emergency dispatch center until you receive a reply from the emergency operator.

Information can also be obtained faster with a voice conversation than via text.

Jones added the ability to text 911 was a feature in a new phone system the district implemented and doesn’t require additional equipment.

The region consists of Cass, Clay, Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, Seward, Thayer and York counties.

For those individuals who are hearing or speech impaired, Text to 911 provides a more convenient method to report an emergency. For anyone who is in a place where they cannot safely talk on the phone, are unable to speak or lack of service won’t allow for a voice call, Text to 911 can also be an important and life-saving tool.

Carriers such as U.S. Cellular, Verizon, Viaero, T-Mobile and others within the 16-county region have tested the service, according to the press release.

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