911 texting service in Morgan County begins today

By Gary Scott on November 17, 2015 at 7:18am

Starting today, you can send a text message to 911 and receive the same emergency services in Morgan County as you would with a phone call.

Morgan County emergency services director Phil McCarty says most cell phone users can access the service from anywhere in the county.

McCarty says you must be using cellular data, not WiFi when accessing the service.

“It’s all about network routing. Everybody’s phone works a little bit differently, but if it’s only trying to pull up data via wireless network, not the cellular data network, then it doesn’t have a route to get back to us,” McCarty explains.

“It won’t always be that way, but in the interim, until we move to the next generation 911, which is a few years down the road for us, then that will correct this problem.”

Morgan County is one of only a handful of counties in the state to offer the service.

McCarty says this service is primarily designed for use by the deaf community in Morgan County, and should not be viewed as a replacement to voice calling.

“We get much better data and much quicker response when you call us. We prefer calling we don’t want people driving down the road and texting 911,” says McCarty. “We will tell those people if it appears that they’re driving down the road and texting us, we’ll probably ask them to call us just due to the fact we don’t want to be part of that risk.”

McCarty notes the service is available for customers of AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular or T-Mobile.

“If you’re a Verizon user, when you’re in Morgan County, you’re roaming. There is movement to correct those problems, but as it stands today, we can almost only guarantee the four prime carriers have service in Morgan County,” he says.

“I’m not saying that those are the only carriers, but those are the only tested confirmed carriers in Morgan County at this time.”

Texting 911 will send the person requesting emergency services directly to dispatchers. McCarty says when you text it, don’t put any spaces or dashes between the numbers.

View our previous story on 911 texting service coming to Morgan County here.