Dispatch centers receive dozens of texts statewide

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Since the texting to 911 initiative started last week, dispatch centers across Indiana have received 45 text messages.

Earlier this month, the Statewide 911 Board announced that people with certain phone providers would be able to text 911, in case of an emergency.

Wednesday, NewsChannel 15 checked in with local dispatchers who said the transition has been smooth.

“Each position has the ability to log-in to what we call the textee screen. At that point we are able to review texts as well as send out text messages,” said Michelle Pongratz, a dispatcher for Allen County and Fort Wayne’s Dispatch Center.

Pongratz said it’s basically a user-friendly web icon.

“We’ve done a lot of hands-on with each other, using each other’s phones texting,” said Pongratz.

Here’s how it works:

If someone needs help and sends a text message, dispatchers see a 911 icon pop-up on their computer screen and respond.

Dispatchers advise not to use abbreviations.

“Full sentences, location is very important because we can’t send you help if we don’t know where you live,” said Pongratz.

Dispatchers even have the ability to use a rebid button, to follow the person’s location.

So far, only Verizon Wireless users are able to text. T-mobile callers can expect to soon. A timetable for A T & T and Sprint is to be determined.

“It’s not been as many as we originally had thought it was going to be, when it went live. We thought for sure it was going to be a flood and it’s not turned out to be that way, thank goodness,” said Pongratz.

Pongratz said she hasn’t seen a text and a phone call come in at the same time yet.

“With the system that we have, we can handle multiple conversations at a time,” said Pongratz.

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