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Last updateMon, 15 Jun 2020 10pm

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Texting 9-1-1 now possible in Peoria County

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If you ever find yourself is a situation where you need help but cannot call 9-1-1 for fear of being heard, there is now a solution in Peoria County.

Text to 9-1-1 is now available in Peoria County for those individuals who cannot safely make a voice call in an emergency, as well as the deaf and hearing impaired.

Text to 9-1-1 is available for cellphones with plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless, according to the Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB). If a text is made to 9-1-1 where the service is not available, an automated message will bounce back to the phone advising the user to make a voice call.

The ETSB said calling 9-1-1 is always preferable, but it recognizes there are situations where it is not possible or too dangerous. For example:

  • Deaf, hard of hearing callers, or individuals with a speechdisability.
  • A caller that is unable to speak due to a medical or othercondition.
  • Emergency situations that would put a caller in danger if they were to make a voicecall. Examples include home invasion, an abduction, domestic violence,oractive-shooter situation.

When texting to 9-1-1, follow these guidelines:

  • Provide your address or exactlocation.
  • Explain the type of emergency or help that is beingrequested.
  • Be prepared to answer any questions that the 9-1-1 operator textsback.
  • Use plain language; do not use abbreviations, symbols, oremoticons.
  • Messages should be brief andconcise.

According to the ETSB, texting 9-1-1 can be done by typing “911” in the field for a phone number. No other numbers are needed. Texting should be done through your wireless phones text messaging service and not from third party texting applications. It will not work in group messaging.

Text to 9-1-1 requires an active telephone service plan or it will not work.

Other important facts to remember are that Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming and it may take longer processing time than a voice call. Also, photos and videos cannot be received through Text to 9-1-1, at least not at this time.

“Remember, the best way to contact 9-1-1 is by making a voice call. Please utilize this service only in emergency circumstances where a voice call is not possible or safe,” the ETSB said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).