The Douglas County 911 Dispatch Center is now capable of accepting live text messages from people in need of assistance and unable to make a phone call.
Previously text messages for Douglas County were routed and initially responded to by dispatchers in another county. This was necessary as the state worked to upgrade text to 911 capabilities in phases.
Douglas County dispatchers are fully trained to receive and respond to the text messages, according to Sheriff Troy Wolbersen.
“We are asking that texting to 911 be reserved for only those situations where a person can’t safely make a call, the person is hard of hearing or has a speech impediment,” said Wolbersen. “Texting is an option for those who need it, not a convenience.”
When a person texts Douglas County 911 dispatch by entering 911 in the “To” field of their phone they will quickly receive a return text that says: You have reached the Douglas County Sheriff 911. Please wait for the call-taker or call 911 if you can. The next text will follow immediately and say: 911, what is the address of your emergency?
Once a person responds, the dispatcher will text: What is your emergency?
“Because texting involves typing and time to transmit it is more tedious than a conversation which is why we can’t emphasize enough to call if you can, text if you can’t,” said Sheriff Wolbersen.
Situations where Text-to-9-1-1 should be used:
The reporting party cannot speak while a crime is in progress.
The reporting party must remain quiet to stay safe.
If speaking may cause harm, such as in a home invasion, domestic violence or human trafficking situation.
If the reporting party encounters a suicidal or agitated person.
If peer pressure is strong not to call in a situation where help is needed.