INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana residents with Verizon Wireless service can now text 911 dispatchers in nearly a third of the state's counties as part of a push that will benefit the deaf, those with speech-impairments or people in hostage situations who are unable to speak to dispatchers.
Statewide 911 Board Executive Director Barry Ritter said that as of Wednesday morning emergency dispatchers in 28 Indiana counties had been equipped and trained to handle text-to-911 calls.
Verizon Wireless, working with its technology partner TeleCommunication Systems, is the first carrier providing the 911-texting service. But T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T are also moving ahead to provide the option across Indiana.
Ritter said 66 Indiana counties have agreed to train dispatchers for 911-testing and are at various stages of implementing the service, while the state's remaining 26 counties are moving toward adopting the texting option.
"Our goal is to have the entire state up and running by the end of the year," he said.
Three counties that are among Indiana's most populated — Marion, Lake and St. Joseph — are holding off as they deal with operational issues or consolidation of their 911 centers, officials said.
Anyone who attempts to text 911 in a county that doesn't have that capability will receive a bounce-back message saying to call 911, Ritter said.
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