Though reports indicate that most dispatch centers are slow to adopt text to 911, a recent incident in Indiana may spur municipalities to pick up the pace.
On the morning of July 17, a 20-year-old woman was taken hostage in her vehicle by two male suspects. As the car headed west on Interstate 70 towards St. Louis, the hostage texted her situation to 911. Local dispatchers exchanged text messages with her, gathering as much information as possible, and relayed the details of the situation to the Indiana State Police.
Shortly thereafter, WTHI reports that authorities caught up with the vehicle and apprehended the suspects. The victim, though distraught, was unharmed.
"The text was very routine," David Costin, Putnam County 911 director, told the Banner Graphic. "She asked for help, [we] got what the problem was, where she was, what direction she was traveling and what vehicle she was in. [The information was sent] to the state police, and they got them."
Costin said that the situation, despite being considered routine, was one of the first big tests of their new text to 911 system, and it was a great example of the benefits of the new technology.
"If there is anything here, it is the technology worked and was ridiculously easy to use," he said.
Though dispatchers still recommend voice communication if possible, this is a perfect example of how a 911 SMS service can be incredibly beneficial. This woman could not have called 911, as the two suspects would have been alerted and stopped her. However, by inconspicuously texting the details of her situation to the authorities, the problem was solved before it worsened.