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Paulding County the First in Georgia to Offer 911 Texting

Verizon customers in the county will be able to send emergency texts when they can't make a voice call.

Paulding County residents who have Verizon Wireless as their mobile-phone carrier will be able to send a text to 911 during emergencies.

The county announced the new feature on Tuesday, pointing out that the service should only be used when a voice 911 call cannot be made. It’s believed to be the first system of its kind in Georgia.

It’s scheduled to go live on April 1.

Texting to 911 is primarily intended for people with hearing impairments or those who cannot call, such as during a home invasion or abduction.

“The safety of residents and visitors in Paulding County is our number-one concern. We are proud to be early adopters of this technology. Text to 911 could be a life-saver, especially for people who might otherwise not be able to make a voice call. I congratulate my team members for their work in establishing this service and for setting an example for other public safety professionals by being the first PSAP in Georgia to offer this important service,” Paulding E-911 Center Director David Mumford said in a statement. “We would like to remind the public that, when possible, a voice call should be placed to 9-1-1, but text is available when you cannot place a voice call.”

According to a Paulding County press release, Verizon users should keep the following in mind:

  • Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is not an option.
  • Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text to 911 situation because of the time involved: Someone must enter the text, the message must go over the network and the 911 telecommunicator must read the text and then text back.
  • Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the Paulding County E9-1-1 Center will receive only an approximate location of the cell phone, and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text. Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
  • Customers must be in range of cell towers in the Paulding County area. If customers are outside or near the edge of the county, the message may not reach the Paulding County E9-1-1 Center.
  • Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
  • Verizon Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text to 911 capabilities.
  • Verizon Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages. The solution is available for customers who use the native SMS provided by Verizon Wireless. Customers should consult their over- the-top (OTT) messaging provider to determine if and how text-to-911 is provided by the OTT application.
  • The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. Non-emergency issues should still be communicated to the Paulding County E9-1-1 Center through its non-emergency line at 770-445-2117.
  • SMS911 should only be used to communicate between emergency help and the texter with no pictures, video, other attachments or other recipients appended to the message.

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