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Arrest made after woman texts 911, ‘Pls help’

COLUMBUS, Ind. (Mar. 5, 2015) -- A phone hangup, savvy dispatcher and text message may have saved a woman's life. Over the past nine months at the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center, the "Text to 911" program has rolled out and taken on a life of its own.

That life came front-and-center when dispatcher Rodney Gill took a call Sunday night.

FOX59 obtained that call, where Gill said "911, where's your emergency?" only to hear static and voices in the background.

"(It was) very heated sounding and I could hear the yelling," Gill said.

His instinct told him something was wrong, so Gill stayed on the line for two minutes until the call hung up. He soon got a text message from the same number that said, "Pls help."

Gill texted back and was able to get an address from the woman. He had already found a GPS location and sent deputies but the text confirmed the right location and gave authorities what they needed to arrest a man for criminal confinement and domestic battery.

"We've had several success stories already," Director Ed Reuter siad.

Reuter jumped at the chance last May to be one of the first Indiana counties to test out "Text to 911." There are now 80 counties on board and the service is getting more and more popular.

In fact, Bartholomew County's dispatchers text every number that calls and hangs up on 911, to be sure a person is okay. Since January 1st this year, they've sent almost 500 texts and received 22 texts for help.

"We all text this day and age, whatever generation," Reuter said.

He said it's still better to call 911 if you can, since dispatchers can better assess a situation by phone, but text gives an option that can keep victims safe in a dangerous situation.

In this case, that proved to be exactly true. It also proved to be a good example of what Reuter said is the future of dispatching.

"(It's) the worst type of call I've taken through texting so far. ... (I'm) just glad to know that we got (her) help," Gill said.

For more information on the "Text to 911" program and to see if your county participates, click here.


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