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New feature allows Montgomery County residents to text 911

Post Date:05/08/2018 1:00 PM

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - Residents living in Montgomery County have a new tool available at their fingertips during an emergency.

Folks living in that community can now text for help.

Chip VanSteenberg, executive director for Montgomery County 911, said dialing 911 should still be the No. 1 way county residents call for help.

This new texting feature gives people a way to communicate with authorities in situations where being vocal could put their lives at risk.

“We believe it’s the next step in communication for us,” VanSteenberg said.

Dispatchers like Samantha Branham said the system is straight forward.

“It’s pretty easy. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The presets are very real to what we use in regular call takings so it makes it a lot easier," Branham said.

Also, VanSteenberg said the feature provides an extra resource to those who may not be able to pick up the phone and call.

"For example somebody that’s got a communication barrier. Maybe it’s a deaf or hard of hearing or a language barrier, may be the right way or if they can’t text, or they can’t speak for example maybe in the case of abduction or domestic violence," he said.

The text 911 feature does have its limitations.

“You can’t do multimedia. We can’t accept pictures or videos and it can’t be part of a group text message,” VanSteenberg said.

Anyone who uses the service is asked to provide as much information as possible, but remember: calling should always be the first option.

Text to 911 is already available in Harris, Galveston and Fort Bend counties.

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