911 Dispatchers Will Soon Receive Texts, Pictures, Videos - WSPA.com

911 Dispatchers Will Soon Receive Texts, Pictures, Videos

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The FCC has required that emergency messaging be available to 90 percent of American cellphone users by May 15, 2014. The FCC has required that emergency messaging be available to 90 percent of American cellphone users by May 15, 2014.
SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. -

You can send messages, pictures, and even videos to just about everyone. But when it comes to getting help, you have to dial 911 for now.

"I think it will be a good move because that is what the generation is doing now," said 911 dispatcher Pamela Ferguson.

In less than a year, alerting 911 dispatchers, like Ferguson will only be text away.

Call centers nationwide are currently upgrading their equipment as required by law.

Spartanburg County 911 has already installed some of the necessary technology, and director Keith Lee is excited about the future.

"As we learn this technology, it will be a lot quicker and will and give us the ability to get more information to the public safety agencies that are responding in the field," according to Lee.

Lee says dispatchers will have to adjust, although, he believes the use of not only text messaging, but the ability to send pictures and video will help in a crisis.

He adds it will still be crucial for the person on the other end of the phone to give dispatchers accurate information.

"Don't give us those abbreviations, because I have no idea what any of those mean," Ferguson said.

Some dispatch centers have already begun testing the new system.

Spartanburg County 911 hopes to do the same before the law goes into effect May 15, 2014.

The Federal Communications Commission is also requiring AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile to make emergency texting available to 90 percent of cellphone users by the same date.

Even when the system goes online, emergency officials still want people to call for help, if they can.

However, they do understand that it's not always possible; and soon it doesn't have to be.

The FCC plans to set up a "bounce back" message so people who do text 911 in areas where the service isn't ready will know their text didn't go through.

  • Would you be willing to text 911 dispatchers in an emergency?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

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