At the last Emergency Management Agency meeting on September 21st, Jamey Robinson the EMA/911 Administrator, said that the Mahaska County 911 Communications and dispatch center can now receive text messages during an emergency. Robinson noted this would be crucial for the deaf/mute community, as well as children or others who may not be in a safe position to speak on the phone.
Mahaska County is joined by almost 80 percent of the counties in Iowa to have this feature. State officials say by the end of the year, ALL of Iowa’s 9-1-1 dispatchers should be able to respond to text messages. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Mark Schouten says text-to-9-1-1 service already has been used in Iowa when a call would have put someone in danger.
“We’ve had cases of a suspected intruder into a home; a domestic assault incident; a sexual assault in progress; and a child who used it to report being kidnapped,” said
Schouten, though, cautions a CALL to 9-1-1 is preferable because the dispatcher can get crucial information more quickly, like your location. Pin-pointing the physical address from which a text is sent is not yet perfected. If text-to-9-1-1 is not available in a city or county, a “bounceback” message will be sent.
Counties that have yet added this feature include Franklin, Hancock, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Marion, Monona, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Scott, Van Buren, Washington, Webster and Winnebago.