Effective today, May 22, the Willamette Valley Communications Center debuts the Text-To-911 service in Marion, Polk and Lincoln counties. WVCC, which dispatches for 29 police, fire and ambulance services in the three counties, has completed testing and is now accepting text messages to 911 on Monday.
Text-To-911 is now be an option for residents with wireless devices who need emergency assistance, but they cannot call because the situation is too dangerous. The service will be especially beneficial to community members who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired.
“We’re excited to unveil Text-To911 to the residents in our service area,” said WVCC Operations Manager Tony Collins. “In addition to testing its functionality, we’ve been working with student groups from the deaf community to teach them about the service and let them practice using it.” Those with hearing or speech impairments will now be able to text for assistance directly, rather than relying on a telecommunication relay service or other third party method.
Calling 911 in an emergency is still the preferred way to request help, as reminded in the slogan, Call if you can, text if you can’t. Videos featuring the slogan were produced in English, American Sign Language, and Spanish to help residents understand the service.
The following situations help describe when use of the Text-To-911 service would be appropriate:
* A deaf or hard-of-hearing individual with a speech disability who needs emergency assistance;
* A caller who is unable to speak due to a medical issue or condition; and
* A caller who finds themselves in a situation where speaking out loud would put them in danger, such as a home invasion, an abduction, or a domestic violence incident.
Tips for texting 911 include:
* Try to keep calm.
* Know your location. The dispatcher will need the location to send help. The Text-To-911 service differs from voice calls to 911 as your location is not displayed on the dispatcher’s screen.
* Text in simple words and avoid using abbreviations or emojis.
* If it is safe to do so, keep the text function on your phone open until the dispatcher concludes the conversation.
* If you do not want to be heard, please don’t forget to silence your phone.
The Text-To-911 service is made possible through the wireless providers and a third party application which directs the text message to WVCC.
The WVCC law enforcement agencies which will make the service available to their residents include Dallas Police Department, Falls City 911 Answering Center, Gervais Police Department, Grand Ronde Tribal Police, Independence Police Department, Keizer Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Salem Police Department.
The service will also be available to the following WVCC fire and ambulance service agencies: Central Coast Fire & Ambulance, Dallas Fire Department, Depoe Bay Rural Fire Protection District, Falls City Fire Department, Keizer RFPD, Marion County RFPD #1, Newport Fire Department, Pacific West Ambulance, Polk County RFPD #1, Salem Fire Department, Salem Suburban RFPD, Seal Rock RFPD, Siletz Valley RFPD, South Lincoln Ambulance, Southwest Polk RFPD, Spring Valley RFPD, Yachats RFPD.