Emergency communication in the Hoosier state just got easier.
Starting today, many people in the state can now send an emergency "text" to a local 911 call center.
We have more on the roll out of this new texting system.
It’s being rolled out across the state of Indiana today, and over the course of this week it'll launch in Allen County and many of our other surrounding counties.
So we stopped into the 911 communications center in Fort Wayne to find out how it works.
"Our dispatchers are well-versed on all of our technology. When a call comes in, it'll flash on everybody's screen, and then the first person to accept it will be the person taking the call,” William Bassett says.
Only now, it's not a call.
As of today, Indiana's Statewide 911 Board has introduced text messages to 911 call centers.
Bassett is the director of Allen County's communications center.
"It'll benefit the hearing impaired. It'll benefit individuals who cannot make a voice call to us in an emergency,” Bassett says.
This map of Indiana shows its availability across the state.
Most counties in our region can accept those emergency texts.
Right now, Allen County's center can only make outbound texts back to you.
"Currently we only have outbound texting. We will send a text to mostly 911 hang ups if we cannot make a voice call back. And then we have a little interaction back and forth with the cell owner at that point,” Bassett says.
But Bassett says you'll be able to text them by the end of the week.
He says voice calls are preferred.
But if you do text, here are some steps to follow.
"First and foremost, we need to find out where the caller is calling from, where the emergency is, and then we'll go into more detail of your name and what happened or what is going on,” Bassett says.
Once it launches, only Verizon customers will be able to use it at this time.
But by the end of the year, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will also jump on board.