A text message could save your life - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

A text message could save your life

A text message could save your life

It's a life-line you hope you never have to use, 9-1-1.  But now there's another way to reach 9-1-1 that can keep you safe, by text message.
Elkhart County 9-1-1 Center Director, Egbert Dijkstra said texting will be useful in emergency situations when it's just not safe to talk.  "An abduction or school shooting or maybe a home invasion."

"Possibly they're hiding in a closet and texting is quiter, they can put their phone on silent." said Rebecca Schoetzow, Training Supervisor at the Elkhart County 9-1-1 Center.

Schoetzow said it goes even further than that, "for the hearing impaired that could not talk to us on the phone."

But not every emergency warrants a text message. Schoetzow and Dijkstra said a 9-1-1 phone call is still best.  "Call when you can and text if you must," said Dijkstra, "Calling is gonna be a lot more efficient. It's quicker, you don't know how long it's gonna take for a text to come through."

If you do have to text, make sure you still tell dispatchers where you are and what the emergency is so they can get help on its way.  Schoetzow said, "If they send us a blank message it's not going to give us any information on where they are, what the problem is, or it could just be an accident."

People think you can be traced through your cell phone but the experts said it's much more difficult to figure out your location from a text message than it is a phone call.  That's why you need to give as much information as possible in that text.

To use the new texting to 9-1-1 service you have to have texting capabilities on your phone and right now you have to be a Verizon Wireless customer.  That's the only carrier providing this service now, but the Elkhart County 9-1-1 Center said T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T will be offering it soon.
Also this is available in Elkhart County and LaGrange County but South Bend Police said it is not available in South Bend and St. Joseph County.  Dijkstra said if you try to text 9-1-1 in an area where it's not available you will receive a "bounce back" text that tells you you can't use the service there.  And then you'll have to make a phone call.
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