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story.lead_photo.caption Here is an example of a Text to 911 exchange.

If an emergency happens and one cannot speak or hear, residents in Moniteau County now are able to use Text to 911.

The Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch announced the new feature, available on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular carriers, July 20.

The preferred method to contact 911 remains a voice call.

Moniteau County may be the first public safety answering point in Mid-Missouri with text to 911 capabilities.

"The technology started to take off a few years ago, however, it is slowly being implemented in 911 centers across the country," Director Kevin Wieberg said.

Emergency Telecommunicators at Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch have received training in how to handle 911 text messages and treat them similarly to a 911 voice call.

"This project began when MCED initially purchased the new phone system software," Wieberg said. "The software was installed last year and the project really picked up back in April. We had to work with each cellular provider one by one to ensure the functionality within the county."

While there are many advantages to Text to 911, there are some things to recognize. With text to 911 one's location is not readily available to emergency telecommunicators, as it would be with a voice call.

As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive and can get out of order. Text to 911 may not be available to residents, if their service is received from a cellular tower that is not inside Moniteau County, as not all counties have this capability.

If texting is not available, the user will receive a bounce back message stating that 911 texting is not available and to attempt a voice call to 911.

Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at this time.

Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch would like to provide the following tips if anyone should ever have to use Text to 911:

  • Location is the most important piece of information;
  • Answer all questions the emergency telecommunicator asks;
  • Do not use abbreviations or emojis;
  • Keep text messages brief and concise;
  • Text to 911 is for emergencies;
  • Do not text and drive.

Call 573-796-8416 for more information.

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