Barber County to Begin “Text-to-911” on Nov. 3

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Barber County residents can already call “911” for emergencies, and beginning Friday, November 3, they will be able to “Text-to-911” as well.

Tests with wireless carriers has been completed, according to 911 Supervisor Cheryl Seipel with the Barber County Sheriff’s Office. She reported that the system seems to be “running smoothly”.

Why is texting 911 important? Texting is intended to benefit people that may not be able to speak due to an emergency such as a home invasion or abusive partner, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities.

How do you text 911? Look for the message icon on your phone. Put 911 in the number field of your text message screen. Then, put the location and type of emergency in the message field.

Texting does NOT replace voice 911 calls. Texting should ONLY be used when a voice call is not possible. Information, locations and other data can be gathered more readily with a voice call, but texting is available in other situations. Remember “Call if you Can, Test if You Can’t”.

Other important facts:

  • Text in simple words – no slang or abbreviations.
  • You must provide your location and nature of assistance needed- police, fire or medical.
  • No pictures, videos, emotions or emojis can be accepted at this time.
  • Messages must be in English if possible as translation for text is not currently available.
  • Do not end your text call or power off your phone unless the dispatcher advises. 911 centers can not initiate text messages. In addition, if your phone is in roaming mode or you add 911 to a group text, the dispatcher center will not receive your message.

For more information on “Text-to-911” call the Barber County Sheriff’s Office at 620-886-5678.