Government
5:06 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Monroe County Offers Texting Service For 911 Calls

Credit Randy Gorbman/Juan Vazquez / WXXI News

There is now a new way to contact 911 for emergency help in Monroe County. If you are a Verizon Wireless customer you can text the call center.

The Director of Emergency Communications, John Merklinger says he would still prefer you use a traditional phone call, because that's the fastest way to get help, but he says there may be times when you need to text, such as if there is a burglar in your house. He also says this texting method will provide a better option for the deaf and hard of hearing.

"They could only use a TTY today, or a relay service, so in essence you have a third party there and it takes longer to screen the longer. So by them being able to text directly to 911 we take the middle person out of it and get the information directly. "

Merklinger says Monroe County is one of only two locations in New York State to offer this service right now. Three other major carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will have to offer the service by August of next year.