Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Texting to 911 available in county, but call if you can

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County E-911 Center announced during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting it has gone live with accepting text messages.

Porter joins the growing list of Indiana counties capable of accepting incoming Text-to-911 messages.

“Texting is a form of communication that needs to be addressed by public safety. People expect this service and we are proud to have it now in Porter County,” said County Central Communications Director John Jokantas in a prepared statement.

Jokantas told the Commissioners that the Indiana Statewide 911 Board and INdigital Telecom of Fort Wayne have agreed to fund the effort and provide the technology to make the service available with the surcharge moneys they get.

Citizens should note, however, that a voice call is “always better,” Jokantas said, and that texting 911 should only be used when talking is not an option.

Situations where texting 911 would be appropriate is when the caller is deaf, hearing or speech impaired; if the caller is otherwise unable to speak because of a medical condition, such as a stroke; or if speaking would be unsafe, as in the case of an abduction or home invasion.

County E911 public information officer Paige Connelly also added that texting is much slower than calling and it’s possible that texting users may get a bounce back message advising them to make a voice call if they are out of the area. Residents living near county boundaries or in areas where the closest cell tower is in a neighboring county are most likely to have their texts bounce back, she said.

The center also advises that you should never text while driving.

To text 911, create a new text message on your cell phone and put “911” into your To: line. Type in your emergency and location and hit send. A 911 dispatcher should respond in 20 seconds to one minute.

More information can be found at www.in911.net, www.fcc.gov/text-to-911 or www.textty.com.

Workers lauded for wristband idea

In another 911 matter, Jokantas announced that during the 10 day run of the Porter County Fair, the 911 Center gave out over 7,300 wristbands to children with their parents’ cell phone number in case they got lost.

It was a new effort thought up by his two staff members Judy Gehrels and Tristan Kehle.

Out of 17 “lost” children at the Fair, the 12 wearing wristbands were located within 3 minutes or so while the five without wristbands took as much as a half hour to find, Jokantas said.

The team heard appreciation from fairgoers, Jokantas said. They also received kudos from Commissioner President John Evans, R-North.

“You are to be commended. Thanks for the great idea,” Evans told Gehrels and Kehle.

The 911 staff were at the fair educating residents about Smart911. Gerehls said the wristbands were a great way to start the conversation.

 

 

Posted 8/6/2014