By Rob McDaniel
People in Apache Junction, along with residents of much of the Phoenix metropolitan area, can now reach 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers by text message.
The service was announced last week by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) with representatives of the Maricopa Region 9-1-1, public agencies that work with members of the disability community, the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the National Association of the Deaf. Most of the public safety dispatch locations in the metro area will now have the ability to receive a text message via 9-1-1.
“Apache Junction is a member of MAG and CAG,” said Bryant Powell, AJ city manager. “These associations help us as a region tackle issues like this – Text to 911 (911/dispatch services in general), transportation and transit, land-use planning, waste water planning, air quality and the latest efforts of Domestic Violence and Homelessness.”
Apache Junction Police Communications Manager Jerry Ward gave some direction for the public. He said that texting to 9-1-1 should only be used if you cannot call 9-1-1 and speak to a telecommunications officer.
His recommendations for when to text:
- If the user is deaf or hard of hearing
- If the user has a speech impediment
- If the user is a victim of a crime and cannot risk being heard talking on the phone
If a person uses text to 9-1-1, they should know that their location will not automatically be provided to the dispatcher, Ward said. Therefore, text messages should include where you are. Texts can only be sent in English at this time. It is also very important to answer the telecommunication officer’s questions as quickly as possible, and be concise.
MAG and the Maricopa Region 9-1-1 collaborated to arrange for funding and the purchase of the system in August 2017. All dispatch personnel have been trained and are ready to begin using the new tool.