You can now text KC emergency system but voice is still better

cell phoneThe Kansas City region is now among a few in the nation that can use text messaging with its 9-1-1 emergency system.

After almost a year of testing, the text option is now up and running, the Mid-America Regional Council announced in a media release.

It could be useful in things like home invasions or active shooters or for those who have trouble hearing or difficulty speaking, MARC said.

But it also could still have some kinks and voice calls can convey more information faster, along with exact locations that text messages do not provide.

“Voice calls are still the best way to contact 9-1-1 but having the ability to text 9-1-1 could be the difference that saves a life,” said Keith Faddis, MARC public safety program director.

The regional system includes 42 public safety listening posts, including those in Jackson, Cass, Clay, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri.

All four major cell companies in the region now offer the service, MARC said.

From its release:

“When it is necessary to send a text to 9-1-1, callers should remember these do’s and don’ts:

  • Enter the phone number 911, with no dashes, in the recipient field.
  • Provide your address or location and the type of help you need — police, fire or ambulance.
  • Be brief, but don’t use abbreviations or slang. Texts to 9-1-1 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
  • Watch for a reply text from the 9-1-1 call center, and answer questions or follow instructions from the dispatcher.
  • Use English. Translation services are not yet available for text messages to 9-1-1.
  • Don’t use emoticons, and don’t send photos or video.
  • Don’t copy others on a text to 9-1-1.

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