911 texting expected to go live this week


NEWTON, Kan, (KSNW) – The new system to text 911 is expected to be online this week.

KSN tested the system in Harvey County.

“If 911 texting isn’t available, you will get a message, a bounce-back in a text message, saying to do a voice call to 911,” says Don Gruver, Harvey County 911 Director. ” not available, callers will receive a bounce-back text message telling them to make a voice call to 911. “But it’s been working for us here, so it will be ready when the state gives the go-ahead.”

That “go-ahead” is expected this week, and as early as Thursday.

Gruver says you should always call 911 as a first option and talk to someone. But, he adds, if you just can’t talk then texting will give another option for communicating with 911.

“Number one, it takes a lot longer for a call to come through to us on text. We’ve tested this out and with a 911 call ringing immediately. On a text call it takes about thirty seconds or so to hit our console so it’s quite a bit delayed. And just a simple act of having to text back and forth, using your fingers and a keyboard, takes a lot longer than talking to us and giving us the information over the phone. So we will encourage people to call if you can, text if you can’t.”

Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay says there are times when a 911 voice call may not be an option, so he’s excited to see the texting system coming online.

“The practical side of texting I think would be like in a situation where you didn’t have the ability to talk. Like a domestic violence type situation, where she does not want to call us or the victim does not want to call but has the ability to text,” says Sheriff Gay. “Maybe a teenage drinking party where the teenager gets to a party where there are things they don’t want to be involved with and they can’t get on the phone to talk and they’re not able to get a hold of their parents. So texting 911 would be a good opportunity for them to get ahold of somebody for help.”

The system includes dozens of counties that are already on the NextGen 911 system. This includes the counties in green, plus, as of this week, Harvey and Harper counties.

The texting is for emergencies only. And it’s simple. You text 911 into your text stream, text your message and then hit send. The 911 texting does not automatically give 911 your location so you will need to include that.

It’s in testing in Harvey County as of Wednesday.

KSN reached out to Sedgwick County and the county will have an announcement on text to 911, on Thursday.

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