By: Erin Sauder
QuadCom is the latest dispatch center to give area residents another means to reach the call center in an emergency.
Beginning March 1, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon customers living in or traveling through the QuadCom service area may be able to use their cell phones to send a text when making a 911 voice call isn’t possible.
The multi-agency emergency dispatch center serves the villages of Barrington Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Sleepy Hollow, South Barrington and West Dundee.
“Text-to-911 is beneficial for our residents and especially important for those with speech or hearing impairments,” said Elizabeth A. Heitkamp, director of QuadCom. “We are excited to be able to offer this service.”
QuadCom officials have been engaged in the process of establishing the text-to-911 service since early 2015.
Making a voice call is still the most efficient way to get access to emergency services, Heitkamp said. Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is not an option.
West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise agreed.
“It’s a good thing to have that capability, especially for people who are in a situation where they can’t talk or are having a hard time breathing,” he said. “But I would emphasize it’s still better to actually call in and talk to the operator who can ask questions, get a sense of what’s going on, and the urgency of the situation. But if someone can’t talk they can use texting as another option to get help.”
Text messages should include clear location information, along with the nature of the emergency, according to QuadCom officials.
Unlike 911 voice calls, emergency personnel will not be able to determine location information for a customer sending a text message, nor will they be able to speak with the person sending the text to quickly ascertain their location. Abbreviations and slang should never be used with text messages to 911.
Because of limitations of text message routing, location of texter, carrier and other factors, not all text messages from customers within the service area will be routed to QuadCom, officials said. Instead, people may receive a bounce back message from their carrier. If a text to 911 for an emergency is not answered in a timely manner, customers should make a voice call to 911.
More information regarding text-to-911 can be found on the National Emergency Number Association website at http://www.nena.org and the Federal Communications Commission website at http://www.fcc.gov.
Erin Sauder is a freelance reporter.
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