Lake County: 911 may soon accept text messages

8:52 PM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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LAKE COUNTY -- The 911 call center in Lake County takes in 400,000 calls a year and 108,000 are for actual emergencies.

The technology they're using now can locate a cell phone call within 300 feet of its location.

But one thing they can't do is get emergency text messages.

Lt. Cynthia Baker said, "Almost everyone has a cell phone....the mindset is there for texting. Now we're just waiting for the technology in place at this point."

In fact, very few call centers can receive text messages for 911 emergencies. One that can is in Frederick County, Maryland and dispatchers there can even text back.

The system is also being tested in Iowa and Vermont and works well for people who can't talk.

Emergency Management Director Jack Markey said "There could be a number of reasons why they can't speak at the moment. Could be the medical event stroke something like that but they can still type."

The 'Big Four' cell phone companies -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile -- are hoping to have a 911 texting plan available for most call centers by May 2014.

Lake County is ready to upgrade but they just need the national plan in place.


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