Did You Know You Can Actually Text 911?

Asking For Help Without Making A Call

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- It's an emergency. You need help.  But for some reason, you can't call for it.

There is another way. You can text for help.

"Say there's something going on and you don't want someone else in the house to know that you've called police," explains Lori Laughlin, Master Telecommunicator at High Point 911.

Dispatchers at High Point 9-1-1 say they receive a few texts a month.  Laughlin says they've had a system equipped to handle texts for about 6 years.

A lot of people don't even know it's an option.

"You get your phone and you text and the number you put in is going to be 9-1-1," Laughlin tells.  "It's that simple really."

WFMY News 2's Erica Stapleton tried it out inside High Point 911's call center, texting "Test" to 911.

A dispatcher responded online through an instant messaging-like system.

He asked if anyone is hurt and if there's a number he can call.

"If you can call it's always best to call because we have questions," Laughlin explains.

Getting information in calls can be a lot easier and faster for dispatchers.  Plus hearing background noise helps dispatchers do their job.  It's recommended you call in if you can.

"Sometimes the younger folks anyway use text speak and sometimes us older folks are like what does that mean?"

But texting does have its upsides.

Laughlin says dispatchers can try and track location through text messages.

For domestic violence cases or abductions this is a way to get help without alerting a threat.

And a little bit of information can go a long way.

"If you can only get one thing out, it's location." 

Texting 911 is free and like making calls you can even text 911 on a phone that's been disconnected.

Most cities and counties in North Carolina have some kind of texting system at emergency call centers, allowing people to text in with emergencies.
Call your city or county's non-emergency number to find out they can text.



© 2017 WFMY-TV


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