Texting: The Future of 911

Gloria Johnson has been a 911 dispatcher for nearly a decade, and says sees next giant leap forward in emergency response coming soon.

â??I just see a lot of advancement coming like text to 911,â?? said Johnson. â??I see improvement as it gets involved, and response times are getting faster due to our technologies.â??

A partnership between the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC , and the largest cell phone companies in the country means that texting 911 in the event of an emergency is quickly going to become a common practice, as text-to-911-functionality should be operational nationally by the end of the year.

Terry Bavousett, the assistant manager of the 911 call center here in Amarillo, said that there are many benefits that could improve their ability to properly respond to emergencies because of text-to-911.

â??The hearing impaired community and others are not able to make phone calls, and thatâ??s why weâ??re excited about this,â?? said Bavousett.

The assistant manager added that this transition will require a lot of training for 911 operators, as they will need to ask the right questions when people use text-to-911. Also, sometimes itâ??s hard to understand context when texting, so it will be a challenge to respond in a timely manner, especially when you compare it to voice calls.

According to the city, should have this service up and running in the next six months and we will join many cities in Texas that already have 911 texts such as the Dallas area. This service will not only help people who are in emergency situations who cannot speak because they are in danger, but will also greatly benefit the hearing impaired community.