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911 texting launching in Havre, Hill County


December 19, 2018

Editor's note: This clarifies that the service starts Jan. 1

The Havre Police Department released a statement Monday that said, starting Jan. 1, emergency calls to 911 in Havre and the rest of Hill County can be made though a text message.

“It is important to understand to call 911 if you can, and text 911 if you can’t,” the release said.

Most residents in Hill County and Havre are now able to send a short message via text for emergency help if they are unable to make a voice call, it said.

The release said the main reasons that people should use this new service. include if they are hearing impaired, speech impaired, in danger and unable to speak or unable to make a call due to cell reception although text message services are still available.

If text is not available, the message will be returned to the phone that sent the text, the release said.

The service is available to wireless customers of AT&T, Triangle Communications, Nemont, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless cellphones.

“Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help,” the release said. “Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency.”

It added that dispatching emergency services in response might take slightly longer in a text-to-911 situation.

When texting 911 always provide the exact location and keep the phone used to text on silent, the release said.

It said texters should avoid slang, social media jargon or abbreviations and not send photos, emojis or videos because intent of the text message must be as clear as possible.

Also people should not send text messages in a group text and should keep all messages brief, within a 160 character limit, The person should simply text the location and nature of the emergency, then respond to the 911 telecommunicators questions and instructions properly.

People should only use the text message option if calling 911 is not an option, the release said.

“The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services” if the person cannot wait until they can call directly, the release says.

People should not joke around, it added. If people text 911 responders will be dispatched.

The release also reminded people they should not text and drive.

“Remember; call if you can, text if you can’t,” the release said.


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