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Montgomery County, Pa. Implementing Texting Option for 911 Emergency Callers

By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- Montgomery County, Pa. will soon be taking access to that county's 911 emergency communications system to a whole new level.

County officials hope that sometime in May (or earlier if everything goes well), people will be able to notify 911 operators of an emergency via text message.

The commissioners awarded a $100,000+ contract to begin the upgrades needed to make the system compatible with texting.

Commissioner Josh Shapiro says it's another tool for people, but admits that the preferable way to reach 911 will still remain a phone call.

"That said, there are situations where people can't report an emergency by phone -- where either their life is being threatened and their voice will give them away, or they're trapped in a situation where texting is the only viable option," he noted.

He says the planned rollout will also come with public education and additional training for dispatchers.

Ideally, Shapiro says, a regional effort with the other suburban counties would be the way to go, but he adds that some counties are still studying the feasibility of implementing the texting system.



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