Most 911 call centers not set up to handle emergency texts
POSTED: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 7:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 7:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — You can text for a pizza and even to close a business deal, but you can't text 911 for help in an emergency.
Most sheriff's offices are not set up to receive emergency texts.
On Tuesday a kidnapped teen from Delray Beach, Florida was saved when she texted her mom, and police tracked her down in the trunk of a car.
They found her at a hotel in Hialeah.
What if mom hadn't read the message right away?
Dozens of emergency text messages from Virginia Tech University staff and students went unanswered in 2007 when a gunman was prowling the halls.
Thirty-three people died that day.
The messages sent to 911 were never received because like most states across the country emergency dispatch centers aren't set up to receive texts.
'We're not there yet,' said Adolfo Martinez, Communications Manager with the Naples Police Department.
Right now most law enforcement agencies and schools can send you messages to alert you of an emergency, but it doesn't work the other way around.
Call centers haven't kept current with technology that could save lives and solve cases.
Technology Lynda Mefford says she could have used while she and her dog hid behind a door during a burglary.
'I could not move. I didn't want to make any noise. So if I would have been able to text, that would have been perfect,' she said.
Officials say calling and having a live conversation with an emergency responder is always better but admit being able to text when you can't talk would add a whole new dimension of safety.
For now, the only way to contact 911 immediately is by making a phone call.