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Texting 911 now an option in Iowa and Nebraksa

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(KTIV) -- The Woodbury County Communications Center, and other public safety leaders are telling the community about a new tool that can be used to reach 91-.

Officials say texting 911 is now an option in Iowa and Nebraska.

"Its another tool, you know, its another tool in our box to be able to help receive 911 calls and get emergency personal out to those in need," said Glenn Sedivy, Woodbury County Communications Director.

The new service is simple to use. All you have to do is open a new text on your phone, type 911 in the recipient field, and use simple words and no abbreviations.

"Make sure you tell us where you're at, because we cannot pinpoint on a map a text call right now, the technology is not there so we need to know for sure who you are, the location, and what's the issue," said Sedivy.

Officials say being able to text 911 will be especially beneficial to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech impairment or are in an emergency situation where making a call is not possible.

Sioux City resident Carol Hestbech says the deaf community was in huge need of this service.

"It's very important for deaf people, they need it badly because without it we have no way of contact, we have to dial 911 and let it ring, but we won't be able to answer," said Carol Hestbach.

While the service is a great tool for many, officials say it should only be used if necessary, because a phone call is still the fastest and most efficient way to call for help.

At this time, call centers will not receive photos or videos, and will not be able to transfer text calls to other counties.

"The real information that we need to get out to the public is you need to call us if you can, and text if you can't," said Sedivy.

Officials want to make it known that calling 911 when there is no emergency is against the law, and the same applies to when you text 911.

They say doing so could prevent someone who really needs help, from receiving it.

If you need to call the Sioux City Police Department, but it is a non-emergency, you can call (712) 279-6960.

Xava Parra

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