Foothills Sun Gazette
The Tulare Police Department is telling any mobile phone user caught in a dangerous situation: “call if you can; text if you can’t.” Wireless customers in the city can now send a text message to 9-1-1 for emergency help when unable to make a 9-1-1 voice call, the department announced.
Tulare joins the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and Visalia Police Department in offering the texting service to their citizens. They are among the first agencies in Central California to be selected to provide the next generation 9-1-1 service.
Text to 9-1-1 was not developed as a replacement, or option, to calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation. Instead, it was developed as an enhancement to reaching 9-1-1 services in three specific situations: The caller is hearing/voice impaired; a medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech; or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger, such as a home invasion, an abduction, a domestic violence incident or an active shooter scenario.
Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the dispatch center will receive only the location of the cell phone tower closest to the call’s origin.
The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services, the department said.