Text-to-911 service could be available in St. Joseph County sooner than expected


By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

Text-to-911 service could be coming to St. Joseph County dispatchers sooner than expected.

Todd Geers, executive director of the county 911 center, told the South Bend Tribune that he would pursue adding the service after the consolidated dispatch center opens up in early December.

Previously, Geers said that he wouldn’t be able to look into it until early or mid-2016.

“When the dust settles, we get into a new building, we’ll definitely re-evaluate this,” Geers said. “It’s what’s going to happen (and) I can’t wait for all the pieces to fall into place because there will be an expectation from the public for this service.”

Text-to-911 service is offered in 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties, including Elkhart County.

There, dispatchers can text a phone number once a call is dropped or communicate with someone in an emergency who is deaf or who is in a situation where speaking may be dangerous, such as in domestic violence incidents.

“It’s not as efficient as a voice call would be, because a voice call is instantaneous like you and I are talking,” Egbert Dijkstra, director of the Elkhart County 911 Center, told The Elkhart Truth in February. “There needs to be clarification, and text is not instantaneous. Texting is a process.”

That process could create extra work for dispatchers, but text messages to 911 are much, much less common than phone calls, the South Bend Tribune reported.

A work group leading the implementation of text-to-911 in St. Joseph County could be formed in February or March.

Find out what else needs to happen for text-to-911 service to be available in St. Joseph County in the full story from the South Bend Tribune.