Dispatchers say texting to 911 is not always the best choice

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (May 20, 2015)-- One month after rolling out a text to 911 system, Johnson County dispatchers are handing out tips to make sure residents know the best ways to use the new tool and they say it may not always be the best choice.

The biggest concerns for dispatchers are trying to obtain detailed information and locating the person in need as quickly as possible.

Under the current system, dispatchers cannot locate the location of the person texting for help in the same way they can with a call. That's why they want users to remember to send an exact location.

"If you are a caller that is not from the area and you're involved in a car accident or you slide off a county road somewhere... if you try to text currently, the text to 911 does not allow us to be able to pull your location," explained Ryan Rather, the Network Administrator for the Johnson County 911 call center.

Dispatchers also want residents to send as many details as early as they can.

"For a car accident we want to know how many people are involved? How many cars are involved? Is there any injuries on the scene?"

He said in those cases, it may be wiser to simply call 911. "We can exchange information and get the information we need to get responders out there quicker than it would be just in text back and forth and trying to ask questions and receive answers."

He also warns not to abbreviations or slang in your text messages and watch out for auto correct on your phone so you don't confuse the dispatcher.

The text to 911 system is meant to shine during home invasions or domestic disputes where the victim cannot speak, because of a threat.

Rather said he believes these are just growing pains and that it will take time for everyone to learn the best ways to use the system.