911 texting coming soon to Tampa Bay

Tampa, Florida -- You text your friends, you text your family... but one thing you can't do here in Florida is text 911.

Counties in 16 different states currently have the text-to-911 platform installed. So why not here?

The director at the Pinellas County 911 Emergency Communications Call Center says that about 80 percent of the calls that come in are dialed with a cell phone, and that it makes sense for people to want to use their cell phones to text 911.

"Eventually we will. We are moving in that direction now," said Chuck Freeman.

If you try to text 911 now in in the Tampa Bay area, you will get a bounceback message that says to call 911.

The National Emergency Number Association Director of Government Affairs said in a phone interview that it's important Florida joins this call for action. "911 text messaging will absolutely save lives at the end of the day. There are a number of situations where it is critical," says Trey Forgety.

There is one draw back with texting 911: the operator won't know your exact location unless you text it.

People say they would pay for it, and in a way, they already do. There's a $.50 charge on phone bills now for 911 services. That money goes toward training and new technology. And depending on what you pay for texting now, it would determine how much you pay if you used this.

"Consumers would be charged just as they would be already for their text messaging plan," said Forgety.

For now with no 911 text messaging available: if you're in a place where you CANNOT TALK, the operator will tell you to use your phone to hit buttons or tap it; that will help you indicate yes or no to questions asked. They'll talk you through that if you're in that situation.

LISTEN to what Forgety says about VIDEO 911 calls:


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment