Texts to 911 now available in Pope County

The Pope County 911 dispatch center is now able to receive texts from those who need emergency assistance.

POPE COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) -- 911 is moving into the digital age in Pope County.

Pope County is one of four counties in the state of Arkansas that has now launched with all phone carriers.

Director of Pope County 911, Denise Robinson, said they're keeping up with technology to keep in touch with the community. Robinson wants people in all situations to be able to get help.

“Maybe someone is in your house and you don't want to give away your location or maybe your witnessing some sort of disturbance in public and you don't want to bring attention to yourself,” Robinson said.

In the case of an emergency using the text to 911 is a very simple process, all you have to do is type out your emergency and your address then send that text straight to 911. The text message gets sent to a dispatchers computer and then help is on the way within seconds.

Dispatcher, Shane Sapp, said people have already started utilizing the feature.

“We have done a lot of testing and training with the operators here and we have actually had a text to 911 come through,” he said.

Sapp said he's glad they're able to offer the option to text but calling is still preferred .

“We'd rather people call in because if they do not know exactly where they are, it's much easier on a phone conversation to locate where the caller is coming from,” he said.

He said hearing the tone of a person's voice can help them better understand the situation.

“You may have a caller that seems very calm with you while you're on the phone but as you're able to listen to what's going on in the background you can realize there's other things going on in that situation that might require an additional response,” he said.

For those who live in a rural area in Pope County you might not have the best cell phone reception, so a call to 911 may not go through, but a text to 911 could.

“For some reason there's a difference between the voice call and the text, Sapp said. "And we have been able to receive some text in testing when we weren't actually able to dial out on 911."

Pope County said if people would like to try out the text to 911, do not text them randomly. They want people to call their office and give them a notice.
 

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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