Texting 911 comes to Spokane in 2016

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 20 at 7:31 PM

Poll:
Would you rather call or text 911 in an emergency?

SPOKANE, Wash.--Cities all across the country began accepting texting as a form of reporting a 911 emergency in May. Spokane communications centers anticipated they would not begin accepting text messages as a form of an emergency report until 2016.

Several cell phone companies announced they were ready for the change. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon officials all said they were ready for their users to text emergencies to 911. Many dispatch centers, like the one in Spokane, needed big technology changes for that to happen.

“Our equipment will not be receiving text messaging. We need to upgrade that equipment,” said a Spokane dispatch official.

READ: Text 911: Calling for help without making a call

Texts sent to 911 before the dispatch center was ready to accept them, received a response prompting to call 911.

“The state 911 system has to be upgraded,” said a Spokane dispatch official.

Dispatchers said they preferred communicating through the phone during an emergency, but said texting was a great alternative.

Officials said it was too early in the game to give a financial estimate on how much the texting upgrade would cost.

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