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Call if you can; text if you can't – New York’s Oswego County 9-1-1 Now Accepts Text Messages

Date: 2015-03-04
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From Owego County Today

Although it should only be used when a voice call is not an option, people in Oswego County (NY) can now text emergency calls to the Oswego County 9-1-1 center.

County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner (District 13, New Haven), said that the major cell phone carriers serving Oswego County recently installed and tested equipment to verify that the text-to-9-1-1 system works.


Left: Paul Van Dyke, operations coordinator for the Oswego County E-9-1-1 Center, answers a text message requesting emergency assistance.  Right: Text messages from the E-9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center appear on the message screen of a wireless phone. If the text message cannot go through, the caller receives a notice instructing them to make a voice call to 9-1-1.

 “We have been working since the fall to have new equipment installed and make sure it’s operational for Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile customers,” Gardner said. “The last of the carriers came on board a few weeks ago. The Public Safety Telecommunicator Call Takers have been trained to respond to text-to-9-1-1 calls, and the system is functioning as it should be.”

Over the past several months Oswego County’s E-9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center received a major equipment upgrade, made possible by an $836,000 New York State grant to provide “next generation” 9-1-1 capabilities in Oswego County, said Michael Allen, E-9-1-1 Emergency Communications Department Director.

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“We are one of a handful of counties that have an integrated solution to handling text-to-9-1-1 calls,” said Allen. “The 9-1-1 text message rings in just like a normal phone call. Incoming text message will appear on all Public Safety Telecommunicator Call Takers’ equipment. A screen will pop up, the Public Safety Telecommunicator Call Taker answers it, and begins a text dialog with the caller.“

Texted phone calls to 9-1-1 follow the same parameters as other texted wireless messages.

Callers are limited to a number of characters and reception and service will be limited if cell phone service is interrupted.

If the E-911 Emergency Communications Center can’t answer the call after 30 seconds has elapsed, the caller will receive a text message instructing them to make a voice call because there is no text service available to 9-1-1 at this time.

When the call is over, the caller will receive a text message confirming that the dialogue has closed.


“Even though text-to-9-1-1 is now available in Oswego County, the best way to contact 9-1-1 continues to be through voice communications whenever possible,” said Allen.

Read the complete story at Oswego County Today

For more information see

- People, Places & Things/ (via Oswego County Today, 3/3/15)



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