LOGAN — People in Cache County can now text 911 during an emergency. The new feature is part of a statewide program called the “Next Generation 911 Rollout.” It’s been in development and testing for years at the Logan City Dispatch Center that handles calls for the county.
Logan City Dispatch Director Shelly Peterson said when someone texts 911, it now comes through the same equipment that a traditional voice call does.
“It comes through a separate window where the dispatchers can type a conversation back and forth,” Peterson explained. “So it does feel like just a texting conversation on a cell phone.”
The dispatch operator would then begin asking where the person is located, and what the nature of their emergency is.
Peterson said while they still encourage people to call 911 when they can, they expect the new text capabilities will be able to help those in situations where they don’t feel safe talking on the phone and those with hearing impairments.
“If somebody is in a situation where they can’t safely talk for whatever reason, whether it’s a domestic violence situation, a kidnapping, an active shooter or a burglary. All of those situations may be times it would be better to send a text message instead of calling.”
Like a phone call to 911, texts can be traced, so dispatch operators can try and determine where they came from.
Peterson explained though, targeting a texts position isn’t as easy and accurate as a phone call. Dispatch operators have been working on the mapping feature, especially for people who are in the mountains.
“Anytime you are up in the hills or mountains, it is less accurate for us, as far as the mapping goes. But a lot of the calls and text conversations, we’ve had a pretty good indication of where somebody is at.”
The 911 text capability is only available for people in Cache County. Rich, Box Elder and Franklin counties are all still working on rolling out the feature soon.