Texting 911 coming to Black Hawk County - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Texting 911 coming to Black Hawk County

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by John Wilmer         

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Since the 911 emergency response system was invented it has only been able to receive phone calls from those in distress, but new technology is making it possible for people to text their emergencies.

Black hawk County will be the first in the nation to use this technology.

"We tried that this morning on a test run and it works. We now have the capability to receive text messaging from individuals," Waterloo Police Chief Tom Jennings said.

This new system is aimed at helping the hearing and speech impaired. Right now they have to use a relay center or a specialized communication device to talk to a 911 operator.

"This is a huge honor. This just opens up the door for the 911 community and for the speech and hearing impaired so they now have another means of contacting 911 when the need arises," Judy Flores of Black Hawk County 911 said.

Texting 911 is just like texting anyone else, however you will have to tell the 911 operator where you are located, they can't tell just from your phone.

"We still encourage people to call 911 instead of text messaging. Calling is better. We don't want to replace calling, but we really think this is going to be an outreach to the people with hearing disabilities and speech disabilities and it will enable them to communicate with us and more importantly for us to communicate with them," Chief Jennings said.

This new system will start in Black Hawk County, but it's expected to sweep across the US helping the millions of people who are impaired and use text messaging as a primary way for communication.

After a couple weeks of training Black Hawk County is making plans to go live with this new system sometime in July.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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