Text-to-911 Now Available in Franklin County

After more than two years of work and cooperation between Franklin County and its jurisdictions, Franklin County residents can now send text messages to 911 dispatchers.

“Having been involved in this initiative since the 1980s I am very excited to see Text-to-911 come to fruition.  Thanks to the efforts of the Gahanna Division of Police Chief Spence, the MECC, Franklin County and all those involved in this initiative, I am pleased to report that Gahanna is now officially a wireless call center and will be handling wireline and wireless calls and also the new Text-t0-911 messages.  Having this new service offers another great option for those seeking assistance in emergency situations to get help when they need it the most. Although the Text-to-911 is now available, it is still important to emphasize to call if you can, but text if you can’t.”

This new service will greatly assist the deaf community, as well as those who may be in a domestic violence situation who are hiding or simply can’t make a phone call. Safety agencies throughout Franklin County collaborated to share 911 systems and develop partnerships to improve emergency service delivery for all Franklin County residents while simultaneously reducing implementation costs for the agencies. These agencies will be able to receive Text-to-911 texts either directly or via transfer – Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; the cities of Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Westerville, Whitehall and Worthington; the Dublin Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center (which also serves Upper Arlington and Hilliard); The Ohio State University and the John Glenn Columbus International Airport Police.

The 911 dispatchers in the agencies noted above will see Text-to-911 messages in a similar fashion to what shows up on a smart-phone text chain and have the ability to text back specific questions to the sender. With this in mind, agencies jointly developed pre-programmed responses aimed to address the text emergencies they receive and quickly ask for key information.

Text-to-911 works on cell phones, tablets and other devices with the capability of sending texts. Though the initial Text-to-911 rollout will not include the ability for texters to send pictures and videos, partners throughout Franklin County will keep working with individual agencies and expect this to happen at some point in the future. Text-to-911 service is subject to cell signal availability and not every text sent will be received – another reason why those attempting to contact 911 should call when they can and text when they can’t. In the event a text does not go through, the person attempting to use Text-to-911 will receive an automated bounce-back message indicating the text’s failure to be delivered.

“The ability for Franklin County’s public safety dispatching centers to accept and respond to text messages to 9-1-1 is the culmination of years of hard work by representatives from several communities’ public safety agencies and other stakeholders within the county.  It was truly a team effort to bring this emerging technology to our residents in order to provide another method in reaching 9-1-1 dispatchers when a voice call is not possible and seconds count.  The initiative behind ‘Text-to-911’ created a number of lasting partnerships and collaborative efforts that help reduce costs for the member communities as well as improve overall service delivery to the public.  We understand that there will be challenges now that text messaging to 9-1-1 is a reality in Franklin County and as its use occurs. When seconds count, we encourage everyone to call if you can, text if you can’t.”

To view a fact sheet about Text-to-911 click here.

For more information about the new Text-to-911 service, click here.