Officials remind public of text-to-911 service

You can text your friends, you can text your family, and in Franklin County, you can text 911.

It's a tool most people in the community aren’t aware of.

“What is 911 for? An emergency," said one Franklin County resident.

“It’s modern day in age, and I think most people do text more so than talk on the phone,” said another.

Bryan Stevenson, 911 Communications Coordinator in Franklin County, says it’s just another way to keep up with the times, and can be a useful tool in dire situations.

“It could be a circumstance where someone is in an auto accident and for whatever reason they’re unable to talk. It could be another circumstance where there would be a potential burglar in a residence and they don’t feel comfortable speaking audibly,” said Stevenson.

It's easy to work- all you do is send a message to the number "911".

The dispatcher will get a notification on their computer, and be able to text you back.

There is some key information that you need to make sure to include in your text message.

“The essential information we need to know is where are you? And then we need to know what the circumstances are. Do you need police? Do you need fire? Do you need ems? What exactly is the need for your call?” said Stevenson.

Right now in Franklin County, Stevenson said they receive less than five text-to-911 requests a month, or around 60 a year- a number that’s not too high, and he says that’s a good thing.

He encourages people to remember they have this as an option, but to use it as a last resort.

“With the text to 911, there is a delay, so I could send you a message and there could be a 10 second delay on that. And depending on the circumstances, whether you’re safe or you’re not safe could depend on how many seconds or minutes you need to stay on the phone,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson says the text-to-911 service is included in the price of other 911 services, so there really is no downfall.

The service is also offered in York, Lancaster, Dauphin, Perry, and Juniata counties.

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