Montgomery County adds 911 texting service

Montgomery joins text 911

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There is a brand-new way to ask for emergency help in Montgomery. It’s aimed at people who can’t call 911. Now they can text the number instead.

For most of us it’s a number we hope we never have to use. But in certain situations texting 911 can be the only safe way for someone to call for help.

We talked with Melinda Shonk with Montgomery Emergency Communications.

”Once you hit send that will send that message to our center where 911 operators are answering phone calls, and the operator will see an indicator on their screen that they are receiving an emergency text message," she said.

Right now 911 texting is available in 80 percent of Alabama. It’s estimated to be available statewide by next summer. But you shouldn’t have to worry about your location whether calling or texting 911.

“The way any cell phone reaches any 911 center is by the location of where that cell phone is. So if a person is inside the city of Montgomery and they text 911, they will be directed to our center and not any other center,” said Shonk.

Public safety communication operators and dispatchers have received special training on handling 911 texts. But while the service has been added as a new public safety measure, it’s aimed at people who need help but also need to remain silent.

“That could be someone who is hearing impaired," Shonk said. "It could be someone who is in a situation where the person they’re calling for, that they need help for, can hear them and they don’t want to be heard for fear of their safety.”

All the major cell phone carriers offer 911 texting with their service.

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