Texting 911 is making it easier to get in touch with first responders when you need help. But depending on where you live, getting that help from 911 isn't always that easy.
“Any barrier there is for victims to reach out for support needs to be addressed,” Jo Ellen Bowman, executive director of the Kittanning nonprofit Havin, said.
According to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, you can't text 911 in several western Pennsylvania counties, including Armstrong, Greene, Indiana and Westmoreland. Emergency Management directors in those four counties told 11 Investigates they plan to implement the system in 2020.
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"Do you still consider Text-to-911 a priority for the department to implement in the near future?" asked Channel 11’s Aaron Martin.
"Oh, yes," Armstrong County Public Safety Director Bill Hamilton said. "That's why we're really pushing to get it done in this calendar year."
Hamilton said the ability to text 911 will be part of a system upgrade, but calling should still be the priority.
"A dispatcher can read what a person's emotions are. They can hear background noise," Hamilton said.
But for Bowman, she believes that reality makes the ability to text 911 a priority, something she's happy to see will soon be a reality.
“I think it’s great if everyone can get on the same page and it can be universal and can be communicated across the commonwealth that this is one of your options if you’re in danger,” Bowman said. “If you need to reach out and you need to do it quietly.”
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