According to the Conference of Western Wayne — a group of 18 western Wayne County communities that coordinates 9-1-1 services for its 700,000 residents — Text-to-911 is a relatively new service that offers citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, a new way to contact emergency services.
Other examples of a citizen needing text-to-911 service could include domestic violence, kidnapping and other situations where victims need a way to call for help without tipping off a criminal during the commission of a crime.
“We are asking residents to reserve the new service for situations in which making a voice call might jeopardize the physical safety of the caller, such as during a home invasion or abduction, or for those who have a speech or hearing impairment that would complicate verbal communication,” said Huron Township Police Chief Everette Robbins.
“The best rule to remember is call if you can, text if you can’t.”
How does the new system work? According to the CWW, anyone who is within the borders of the 18 CWW communities can use the service, as long as they have a texting plan with one of the four major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon.
The 18 communities that will use the service include the cities of Belleville, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Inkster, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Romulus, Wayne, Westland, and the Townships of Canton, Huron, Northville, Plymouth, Redford, Sumpter and Van Buren.
The service is activated by sending a SMS text on a mobile phone to the number “911.”
That text message will be routed to the nearest CWW 911 dispatch center for action.
The CWW says that at the current time, the rest of Wayne County does not have text-to-911 service, although some neighboring counties such as Oakland and Macomb have fully implemented text-to-911.
If the texter is in an area that does not support text-to-911, they will receive a “bounce-back” message informing them 911 is not available via text.
“It is always a positive thing for us to add services in which residents can have numerous options to get emergency help when it is needed. This is just another way that technology can help us save lives,” Robbins said.