Callers can now text 911 in Grant County
MOSES LAKE — People with most cell phones can now text 911 inside Grant County.
Officials with MACC, the dispatch center for Grant County, announced last week that texting 911 is working in the county for most cell phones. MACC is the first dispatch center in North Central Washington to have 911 texting abilities.
“We are offering technical services that can help certain parts of the population, such as the hearing and speech impaired,” said MACC Director Jackie Jones. “It could also help people who are in danger and don’t want to make a voice call. If your house has been broken into and you are hiding, you can text us and get help rolling without tipping someone off.”
Jones warned, however, that dispatchers will text people back who text 911. If someone is in a dangerous situation, and does not want a sound with the return text, they should turn off their phone sounds.
The county’s system is able to implement texting to 911 because it upgraded its 911 phone system in July.
The system works for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Officials are still testing Inland Cellular.
To text 911, phones must have a data plan, Jones said. Texting 911 does not give dispatchers a location of the caller, and the system will not work if phones are roaming.
The system cannot accept pictures or videos, Jones said. This also may be an improvement for people who live in remote areas where they can text but cannot get good voice reception. Interpreter services are not available for texting to 911.
To text 911, open the phone’s text messaging program, enter 911 in the “to” field. Do not add dashes. Type the message with the location of the emergency and the type of help needed, then push the “send” button. Texters should stay with their phone to respond to dispatcher questions.
Other counties with 911 texting abilities are Kitsap, Snohomish, Spokane, Pacific, Jefferson, Clallam and Thurston.
— By Dee Riggs, Wenatchee World