911 texting program has been successful since it was launched statewide 2 years ago

GREENFIELD, Ind. – Indiana is celebrating two years since Hoosiers in every county have been able to text 911 in case of an emergency.

Indiana State Treasurer and Chairman of the State 911 Board Kelly Mitchell is spending the next month visiting the 25 counties that have the highest use of text to 911.

“We’ve just always been out in front and we’re really proud of the 911 system we have and we’re especially proud of the dispatchers and directors,” Mitchell said.

In 2017, 14,782 texts were sent to 911 dispatch centers statewide. Versus the 152,656 text sessions that were engaged by 911 dispatchers, placing Indiana as a leader in using the system.

“When we did our statewide deployment we were the largest deployment of text to 911 in the world. And so we’re real leaders in this and it’s hard to compare us to anyone else as far as success because we’re out in front,” Mitchell said

Officials say most of the use of text to 911 comes from dispatch centers reaching out to residents after hang-ups or incomplete calls.

“So when we’re able to send the text messages saying ‘hey you called 911 do you have an emergency,’ we’re able to get a nice reply from them which gives us some closure on some of those incomplete 911 calls,” Hancock County 911 Director John Jokantas said.

Hancock County is one of the 25 counties who use text to 911 the most. Jokantas says she wants to raise awareness about the importance of using the system.

“It’s one of those catch 22s where we’d like to see it used more. But we also understand voice is best when it comes to calling 911,” he said.

Officials say the next step for the text 911 system is to give users the ability to send pictures and videos, as well as feature enhanced location services. Those features are expected to be added within the next year or so.

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