Indiana 911 now accepting text messages

Indiana residents can now send text messages to 911 as part of a coordinated statewide approach to public safety.

A pilot program through Verizon Wireless and its technology partner TeleCommunications Systems last year tested the text-to-911 service, Emergency Management reports.

According to Vigo County 911 Director Rob McMullen, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are also committed to providing the service as of this week, which was the deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission for the service.

All other wireless carriers have been requested by the FCC to provide the text-to-911 service by year's end.

"This will allow citizens of Vigo County and citizens throughout the state to text messages to 911," McMullen said, according to Emergency Management. "Instead of calling, you can send a text. It is through the Indiana Statewide 911 Board. Indiana is among the first 10 states to provide texting to 911. It allows in-bound and out-bound texts."

While voice calls remain the preferred and most effective means of using 911, texting can be a benefit for the hearing- or speech-impaired.

"If someone can make a voice call, please do so," McMullen said, Emergency Management reports. "Also, if you use text, please don't use texting lingo, but type out the full word, as it makes it easier for the dispatchers to understand."