July 9, 2014

911 texting making its way to Laurel County


As technology advances, so do the capabilities of those who rely on it to do their job, first responders and other emergency workers are no exception.

Laurel County’s 911 Communication Center, along with many other centers in the state, will soon receive some major updates to help them keep up with the advances in technology.  One of these updates will likely include the capability for 911 texting.

“Texting is so prevalent in our society,” London police chief Derek House said. “Everybody texts; giving our dispatchers the ability to receive texts is going to be a really good thing. It will open up lines of communication that we’ve never had and will drastically increase our ability to get information from people in deadly or dangerous situations.”

House used a home invasion as a situation where people and first responders would benefit from having the ability to send and receive 911 texts.

“In that situation a person wants to stay quiet,” House said. “Talking might get them caught, but texting would keep them quiet enough that they might not be noticed.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wireless telephone companies including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will be cooperating with 911 centers around the country to get 911 texting set up nationwide.

Michael Holt, director of the London-Laurel County 911 Communications Center, said that texting is not the only upgrade to come to Laurel County’s dispatch center.

Holt said that in addition to the standard text messaging, Laurel County’s 911 communication center will soon be able to receive pictures messages, videos and determine the GPS location of the caller.

“We don’t have a specific date set for texting services yet,” Hold said.  “We know that we will be performing updates to our existing system and in August we’ll go live with a new database system.”

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