FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Marion County residents have a new way to get help in emergency situations.
People can now text 911 if they are within county lines. The text system is similar to sending anyone a normal text message.
Open the phone’s text messaging system. Enter the numbers “911” in the “TO” field. If 911 sends you a request for your location, approve it. Type a message with the exact location of the emergency, including the city, and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical). Be aware of auto-correct when providing information. Push “send”. Stay with your phone and be prepared to answer text questions and follow instructions from the dispatcher.
The text goes directly to the 911 operator.
The 911 center for the county has been testing the text system for three to four months. Officials with the 911 center said they’re always trying to stay up to date with the latest technology.
911 operators still prefer people to call if they can for reporting their emergencies, but if they can’t then to send a text. Texting takes longer for the operator to get all the information needed because of the time it takes to type compared to a phone call.
“This is really designed for in a situation where if you’re hearing or speech impaired or you’re in a situation like a home invasion or a domestic situation where you cannot call it’s easy to text us now and convey the information then we can send help to you,” said Chris Mcintire, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and 911 for Marion County.
“Everybody texts now so it’s just another tool that the county citizens can use if in a situation where they can’t speak, and they just want to text to 911 with something that’s going on that they need help with,” said Randy Elliott, Marion County Commissioner.
Major cell phone carriers can send text messages to the center. Group texts, emojis and videos or pictures are not currently accepted.
“Next Generation 911, we’re looking toward and continuously updating things and we do believe that video and pictures will be coming soon,” Mcintire said.
Mcintire said so far, they haven’t received any actual emergency texts from community members.