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News

Los Angeles Might Make It Possible To Text 9-1-1

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Help is on its way (Photo by WilleeCole via Shutterstock)
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The city of Los Angeles is considering a proposal to bring emergency services into the 21st century: making it possible to text 9-1-1.

Most of the time making a call is the best way to get help quickly in an emergency when every second matters. But there are situations where being able to text 9-1-1 might be better. Maybe you have an intruder in your house, and you don't want to make a sound. Or you can't speak or hear very well—either because you have a disability or are incapacitated. But right now if you text 9-1-1, you'll get a text urging you to call instead.

So yesterday the City Council voted 12-0 to order a study into upgrading emergency services, according to City News Service. Councilman Paul Krekorian put forward the motion and noted that since the 9-1-1 system was started 45 years ago "the technology hasn't really kept pace with the rest of society."

The National 911 program is supporting efforts to expand beyond voice calls with Next Generation 911. So far the emergency texting service has been rolled out to Dallas and Vermont. Next Generation 911 notes that the technology is available for local emergency services to roll out the program, but it will take planning and coordination among responders to figure out the best systems for hardware, software, standards, policies, protocols and training.

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The Los Angeles Register notes that Vermont's emergency texting program has similar guidelines to its phone one: it is only for emergencies, and location details and information on the nature of the emergency is required. There are some new text-specific guidelines, too, like not using texting slang (as in "idk wtf is happening").

A report on the issue from police, fire, information technology and other city officials is expected back within six months.