Crossroads police can now receive 911 texts

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Crossroads residents can now text 911 in emergencies when they are unable to speak or if they are hard of hearing.

The Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission, which runs the 911 systems in DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, and Victoria counties and Calhoun County, which runs its own 911 system, have both upgraded their emergency systems to allow for the capability.

The new service will allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who are unable to speak during an emergency, to contact emergency services by simply putting “911” in the number field of a text message.

Cellphones on any of the four major U.S. carriers – AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T. Mobile – are able to text to 911.

Accessibility advocates have increasingly called for more localities to upgrade their 911 systems to allow for texting to 911 to provide easier communication for people who are deaf or who have trouble speaking to alert authorities in the event of an emergency. Texting can also provide a method of communication for victims of domestic violence, children who are abducted, or during active shooter situations, when speaking aloud could put a person in greater danger.

During the 2016 Pulse massacre in Orlando, terrified hostages trapped in the club texted friends and families begging them to call police as they hid from the gunman. The people trapped inside the club couldn’t call 911 and speak to police without risking revealing their location to the shooter.

To contact police via text, simply send a text as you normally would with “911” in the recipient field. If you are in an area where the 911 system does not have the ability to receive texts, you will receive an automated response telling you to call instead.

The Federal Communications Commission guidelines say that when in danger, you should always call if possible, because voice-based 911 service is still the fastest and most reliable method of contacting emergency responders.

More than 270 emergency systems in Texas have the capability to receive emergency texts, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Ciara McCarthy covers local health issues for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. She reports on insurance, the cost of health care, local hospitals, and more. Questions, tips, or ideas? Contact: cmccarthy@vicad.com or call 361-580-6597.

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