Cell service companies are about to make upgrades tomorrow that will making texting 9-1-1 a possibility across much of the nation...
However, even as the companies like Verizon and A-T&T make that move, local dispatch centers need to have the technology in place to handle these emergency texts.
And in North Dakota...that technology isn't ready yet.
9-1-1 texts now will get a return message instructing you to call 9-1-1 instead...
Statewide however, there is a program manager now in place working on getting the network set-up to handle 9-1-1 texts.
DeVawn Beckman with Minot Central Dispatch says the upgrades that will be coming later this year serve as another great tool in getting emergency help out as soon as possible.
(DeVawn Beckman - Minot Central Dispatch) "For someone who is speech or hearing impaired they are going to be able to contact 911 without having to go through some type of a service or use a teletype device. If a person is in a situation where they can't speak because of safety being at risk they would be able to text."
Statewide texting 911 should be available perhaps this summer with a dispatch center in the Red River Valley taking all texts statewide and sending emergency help.
Soon after that however, perhaps by the end of 2014, each individual dispatch center will get the technology in place to take and respond to 911 texts.
(DeVawn Beckman - Minot Central Dispatch) "Once the network is in place all across the state that is the plan and all of the pieces of the puzzle are put together then each dispatch center will be able to take text."
Beckman does stress that while texting 911 should soon be an option in the state, the preferred method -- if you are able -- is to call 911 rather than texting.