The Federal Communications Commission unveiled a much-anticipated program in May: Text-to-911. Working in conjunction with mobile phone service providers, the first phase of the program allows the public to contact 911 during an emergency. The FCC reminds the public it is still better to call 911 versus texting, saying, “if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911 instead.”
This service will put into practice the habit that some consumers have made of texting 911 in order to alert emergency response teams. Consumers have mistakenly sent text messages for several years. Beginning in 2012, a bounce-back message alerted anyone text messaging for assistance that they needed to call. Despite the demand, the service may disappoint those waiting for emergency responsiveness to text messages.
Two years ago, the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowsk, said, “Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century — and today, we are one step closer towards that vital goal.” When that statement was made, text messages were a 20-year-old technology. Although the nationwide rollout has now finally started, the service does not extend to every community or area in Texas.
The system seems to be unfolding as planned nevertheless: “Once the carriers are set up, local emergency response centers will still need the proper equipment, software and training, so the feature won’t be available instantly.”
For example, Houston, Texas motorcyclists who experience an injury will not be able to use the Text-to-911 service yet, as Harris County is not included in the first stage of available counties. Even if consumers could access 911 via text message, Houston residents should remember to voice call 911 if it is safe to do so.
Everyone at Kurt Arbuckle, P.C. wish you safe travels!
Photo Credit: Flickr Contributor, Thomas Hawk