9-1-1 Text Alert Pilot Program Launches in Frederick County
03/22/2013
Advocate-Messenger - Online, The

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Verizon Wireless customers can now send a text message to 911 for emergency help.

A 9-1-1 text alert pilot program will be launched today throughout Frederick County and six other counties across the Northeast. The service is designed to enable those needing 911 assistance to send a short message service (SMS) text message when they are unable to make a call. A short text message when sent to the number 911 will be read by an operator who will determine the action needed.

"The pilot program was deigned with two primary intentions, the first being as an additional aid to those individuals who are hearing impaired and for those who are unable to make a voice call," said Jack Markey, Director of Emergency Management.

The pilot program will run for around six months to determine if it will continue and its effectiveness.

"Ensuring the safety of residents and visitors in Frederick County is a primary strategic goal of the County Commissioners and our public safety agencies," said Blaine R. Young, Board of County Commissioners President. "I congratulate our team members for their work in establishing this important service in cooperation with Verizon Wireless, Telecommunication Systems, Inc., and the State of Maryland's Emergency Number Systems Board."

Frederick is the home of the Maryland School for the Deaf. The 9-1-1 text alert system will be an additional emergency resource for those who are hearing impaired.

"We are proud to be part of services such as Next generation 911 technologies that will enhance our abilities to better service those who may need to contact public safety agencies," Markey said.

There are a few guidelines that users in Frederick County should keep in mind such as only using the text service when calling is not an option. At this point in the pilot program it may take longer for emergency services to be dispatched using the 911 text program due to the fact that someone has to enter text into a system and read message received.

Text messages sent to 911 also have the same 160 character limit as other text messages.