Verizon Wireless customers in Franklin County can now send a text message in case of emergency. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department joined a growing list of agencies accepting text-to-911 notifications.
The Federal Communications Commission wants all wireless carriers to provide the service by the end of 2014.
Verizon Wireless is the first carrier to provide service. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have also voluntarily committed they will soon add the option.
Texting would be specifically useful for someone that is deaf, experiencing a stroke, or in case of a home invasion or abduction.
Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy says it is a major step forward for public safety but reaching 911 is still best by phone.
“If it is a true emergency they need to call 911. When we get a serious call we generally keep the caller on the line until the first responders are there. It helps us monitor the situation,” Sheriff Murphy said.
When emergency texting is utilized, law enforcement hope people provide location information and the nature of the emergency in the first text message.
The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services.