State police launch "Text 911" program

State police launch "Text 911" program

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A new service will allow the public to request emergency help by texting 911.

The new service is intended for people who are deaf, hearing impaired, or have difficulty speaking, and those who feel making a phone call could increase their danger. 

“The safety and security of our residents is a top priority and this is an important innovation that will indubitably save lives,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement Thursday.  “There are emergency situations where a voice call to 9-1-1 is neither possible nor safe  This technology provides increased protection for residents, including victims of domestic violence and those who are deaf or hard of hearing, by increasing access to emergency responders in such scenarios.”

Malloy and other public safety officials said that voice calls to 911 remain the fastest way to get a response.

“It is critical that everyone is able to contact 9-1-1 to summon help in an emergency and that is why Connecticut created Text-to-911 capability,” said Dora Schriro, commissioner for emergency services and public protection.

Examples of scenarios where phone calls could be more dangerous include domestic violence, home invasions and mass shootings, officials said. 

“The new Text-to-911 technology will provide an important lifeline for many victims of domestic violence in Connecticut,” said Karen Jarmoc, CEO of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

The program allows residents to request help by entering 911 as the recipient phone number. The text message should include a location and a brief summary of the emergency. 

Those requesting help are urged to respond to any text responses seeking additional information and to follow instructions. 

Texts shouldn’t include videos or pictures, and 911 can’t be included as part of a group text. Texts must also be in English, because the service doesn’t currently have the ability to translate.

Texts are routed to one of more than 100 emergency call centers. If someone receives no response, they are urged to try contacting 911 another way. 

Anyone who accidentally texts 911 is asked to reply indicating that there is no emergency, they are not in danger, and help is not needed. They should also respond to any requests for additional information from dispatchers looking to determine that no emergency is occurring. 

Intentional misuse of the 911 system in any way, including via text, is a punishable offense. 

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