Text to 911 service now active in Dubuque County - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Text to 911 service now active in Dubuque County

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A new way to ask for help can now be accessed across the state, including in Dubuque County.

Text to 911 is now active, although Verizon is currently the only carrier that the service works with in Dubuque.

Mark Murphy, emergency communications center manager, says there are a few situations where texting to 911 could save lives.

"Possibly domestics, or situations where people can't talk, like someone breaking into their house maybe. Or hearing impaired, that can't communicate verbally, that they can text to 911," he said.

The text pops up on a screen for operators, where they're able to choose from already loaded in messages, or type in custom responses.

But in situations where seconds could matter, Murphy says they'd like you to call if at all possible.

"We'd rather people call if they can, text if they can't, that's what we're preaching. But if they have to text, we're not going to get their latitude, longitude, their coordinates, where they're at, we have no idea. So we're going to have to ask that question," he said.

To combat that lack of info, Murphy suggests you include as much info as possible in your text so they can get you help faster.

For example, he said, "I need an ambulance at whatever address for chest pain. It gives us a starting point to get some help coming."

Although Verizon is currently the only carrier to provide the service in Dubuque County, Murphy said they're working with other carriers to broaden the service.

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