LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - People who live in Meade County and have an emergency can now send a text message to 911 for help. The deaf and hard of hearing community called the measure ‘lifesaving.’
Typically those in the deaf and hard of hearing community use a video phone and an interpreter if they need to call 911, according to Blake Noland, the information coordinator for the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who is deaf himself.
“The deaf community has a video phone (to call 911), and we use that through interpreters, but if you’re on the road, and your car is broken down, or there’s an emergency that’s happened, and you can’t use video phone, you’ve got to text to 911,” Noland said. “There are so many situations that can come up, and it is so good for individuals to have the ability to text to 911. The counties who don’t have it, they have to be really patient.”
Noland told WAVE 3 News text to 911 is vital to the deaf and hard of hearing community. The KCDHH has spent years pushing for a state-wide adoption of text to 911, but the group said funding is a major issue. Individual counties in Kentucky have started rolling out their own programs. As of March 1, 2020, 15 counties in Kentucky had text to 911.
The Meade County E-911 Interim Director, Jeremy Miller said the county received a grant for its text to 911 program. Users simply open a new text message, type 911 in the number line and send the message for help. According to Miller, the dispatcher who receives the text will already know the location of the texter but will verify the information, similar to a traditional 911 phone call.
Miller said the texting feature can be used in a variety of scenarios.
“If a person is in a dangerous situation where if you’re doing a voice call it would set somebody off,” Miller said. “You can text instead, like in a domestic or, I hope it never happens, but in an active shooter situation or anything like that.”
Calling 911 is still the recommended method of contacting first responders in case of an emergency.
“It’s definitely a lot easier for the dispatcher in getting information and hearing stuff in the background that texts can’t provide for us, but if you can’t (call), then text. Text right away,” Miller said.
If Meade County’s text to 911 service is not available for whatever reason, the user will receive a text message back advising the customer to make a voice call.
To read more about KCDHH, or to find out which counties have text to 911, click here.