A flat tire in the middle of nowhere.
For many, help comes with a phone call, but Tammy Derrick, who is deaf, couldn’t make that call.
“I didn’t have any internet connection… I had to wait several hours and it was scary… It was freezing cold,” says Tammy Derrick.
It was writing a note to a helpful stranger that finally got her home safe.
“I was so grateful” says Derrick.
This situation is one that can happen to many people who are deaf or hard of hearing across the country.
Luckily, not anymore, at least in North Dakota.
“Call if you can. Text if you can’t” says Mike Dannenfelzer, Central Dakota Communications Center.
North Dakota is one of the first states in the country to have text 911.
It’s to help people like Derrick contact police quickly and also to provide a quieter way to call for help.
“There are any number of types of situations where bringing attention to yourself could be a problem or create more potential for harm,” says Dannenfelzer.
This is how it works. You put 911 in the contact area. Then in the messaging area explain the emergency and where it is. It’s very important to be short and sweet in these texts. No abbreviations and no slang.
“The texting service is a slower than calling. It takes a little longer to process and respond to the text,” says Dannenfelzer.
If you’re able to make a phone call, you should be able to send a 911 text too.
So if Derrick ever finds herself with a flat in the middle of nowhere, hitting send is all she needs to get home safe once again.
Dannenfelzer says they have future plans to also be able to send photos and videos to 911.
Just as it is with phone calls, texting 911 in a non-emergenecy is a crime.