Tulsa Not Able To Handle Texts To 911

Tuesday, May 13th 2014, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

The nation's top cell phone providers are making it possible for people to send a text to 911 when they need help. The Federal Communications Commission said the technology is available but there are major problems on the receiving end.

If you have an emergency, despite what your cell phone provider says, don't Text 911. Operators in local call centers will not be able to see them.

The nation's big four carriers - AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile - cover 90 percent of the population, and by Thursday, the cell phone carriers say you can text 911 for help.

Dispatch Supervisor, Terry O'Malley, said, "Tulsa does not have the capability, at this point in time, for receiving text to 911."

Neither does Sand Springs, Broken Arrow, Claremore or any of the other local municipalities.

"If you, a member of the public, do text 911, what you're going to get is something called a bounce back message," O'Malley said.

In about 20 seconds you'll get a text back telling you your SMS wasn't received. Dispatcher Gary Applegate said those are valuable seconds you don't want to lose in an emergency.

"If they got time to sit there and fiddle with their fingers and thumbs to send a text messages they can talk," Applegate said.

If you are in danger and can't talk that's okay dispatchers say.

"Call 911, hang in the line, we will get to you," O'Malley said.

"If you are on a landline we have your address automatically for the information and if you are on a cell phone we can usually go by the GPS Coordinates for your cell phone," said Applegate.

Most cities are a long way off from being able to afford the technology that will allow 911 texts. The closest call center that can receive texts is in the Dallas area.