According to a release from Sgt. Amy Gonzalez of the Jo Daviess County Sheriff's office, the Jo Daviess County Communication Center has officially announced it can now receive texts to 911 from wireless customers in an emergency.

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The Jo Daviess County Communication Center emphasizes that texts to 911 should only be used in an emergency AND when placing a call is not possible. Examples of this could include if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger (kidnapping, domestic issues, etc.).

A police dispatcher working at console
Credit: HHLtDave5

In an emergency when you are unable to make a call, you are advised to remember these steps:

  • Don’t text and drive
  • In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
  • Text in simple words – send a short text message in English without abbreviations or slang.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Don’t Abuse 9-1-1. Text-to-9-1-1 service is ONLY for emergencies. Misuse or abuse of Text to 9-1-1 could result in criminal charges under 720 ILCS 5/26-1 of the Illinois Criminal Code.

The Jo Daviess County Communication Center notes that voice calls are still the best and fastest way to contact a 9-1-1 operator, as the text service may sometimes present technical challenges.

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Remember, many 911 call centers follow protocols that guide callers through a sequence of questions to quickly obtain necessary information for dispatching the right responders to the right location. 911 operators also provide instructions about what to do until help arrives. Even though protocols are designed to help call-takers reassure callers and take charge of the situation, the experience can be stressful for a 911 caller who is not accustomed to dealing with emergencies. When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker’s questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address, and room/apartment number, if you’re in a large building
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency
Instructor demonstrating CPR on mannequin at first aid training course
Credit: Sergey Kirsanov

This questions are also important to answer, if possible, when texting as well. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to do so.

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