Texting 911 Option Expands in Kanawha County

UPDATE 9/10/14 @ 9 a.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More people can text 911 to get help during an emergency in Kanawha County.

Metro 911 announced Wednesday AT&T customers now have the option to text 911.

When the program officially kicked off in July, only Sprint and Verizon customers had the option. The campaign is called "Call If You Can, Text When You Can't."

Dispatchers say just like calling 911, people should only text 911 when an emergency situation requires a response from police, fire, or emergency medical services.

This service will also offer an additional service for people who are hard of hearing, deaf or speech impaired.

Dispatchers say it's important to text in simple words and avoid abbreviations.

Currently, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are the only mobile service providers that offer text to 911 in Kanawha County.

For more information on the program, click on the link to the right of this article. You can also call the Text Information Hotline at 304-746-6919.



ORIGINAL STORY
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County has a new service to help in an emergency. If you can't call 911, you can now send a text message.

The new motto at Metro 911 is "call when you can -- text when you can't."

The new system is in no way meant to deter you from making a phone call to 911, but if you find yourself in a situation where you don't want the people around you to know that you're reaching out for help, this is an alternative.

The program, the first of its kind in West Virginia, is already seeing success.

Dispatchers say a woman found herself in a domestic situation and didn't want the man she was with to know she was calling 911, so she was able to send a text message instead.

The dispatcher then texted her back and got her the help she needed.

If you find yourself in a similar situation -- here's what you need to know.

Just go to your text message, type in 911 as the number. Then in the message box be sure to put your location and what you need. Dispatchers ask that you use plain language without any quick-text abbreviations.

It may take a minute or two, because it's not as immediate as a phone call, but a dispatcher will text you back.

Officials at Metro 911 say other counties are already reaching out to them and checking to see how things are going.

Right now it's only available for Sprint and Verizon customers. If you have a different provider, like AT&T or nTelos, it may be a few months before you're able to text 911 in Kanawha County.


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