Technology is virtually at everyone’s fingertips. And with increased buzz about the capability of sending text messages to 911, local emergency and law-enforcement personnel talked to The Democrat about service.
Durant Police Chief Durward Cook said the technology will come to the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma eventually but doesn’t see it being soon.
“We’re continually upgrading software,” said Cook.
He adding that there would have to be a lot of checks and balances involved with the text-to-911 program. He said the only need for this technology would be in a situation where the caller couldn’t speak, such as a disorder, or if he/she was hiding from someone. Cook said those situations don’t commonly occur in the area.
Local 911 dispatcher Amy Kelso said this area doesn’t need that program at this time.
“There are a lot of neat things we can do now,” said Kelso.
She specifically noted how the communications center has the advanced ability to locate cell phones which easily finds callers.
Brian Norton — a longtime emergency medical technician who serves as Calera fire chief — said he is “very” aware of the technology. However, since his department is not in control of the county’s central communication center, he isn’t pursuing the technology.
Norton said, when outside infrastructure is in place, it would just take the county “buying in” and implementing the technology to make it available locally. He also speculated about the cost and funding.
“Seems to me that in the reality of things it would be fairly cheap to implement and maintain,” he said. “I would fund it by letting the people vote in the text-to-911 at the same time and vote to increase the 911 cellphone tax to the maximum allowed by the law.”
Norton said he thinks text-to-911 would be good for the community and a “useful tool in saving lives.”
“I wish we had it because younger generations know it better than phone calling.”
The future of text-to-911 service could allow photos and videos to be sent with 911 text messages. Norton said that element would be beneficial.
“The more info you can get, the better you can respond,” he said. “Emergency responders can get a lot of info from just a picture.”