WEAR TV Channel 3 reports another Northwest Florida County is about to be able to text 9-1-1 besides Walton County. Residents in Santa Rosa will soon have the new tool at their disposal. They’ll be able to text dispatchers directly. According to authorities, the service won’t launch in Santa Rosa County until June 2016 but dispatchers are optimistic this new tool will help save lives. All fire and EMS calls are dispatched from the Emergency Operations Center in Milton except for land line calls made in Gulf Breeze. Dispatchers know they are an integral part of the puzzle and they play an important part in getting help to those in need. If it is easier for those in need to be able to text a dispatcher, it could make the job a little easier and more efficient. Ken Bass, 9-1-1 coordinator for Santa Rosa County, said over the last couple of years the county has made several upgrades in preparing for 9-1-1 text messaging.
“I think probably every 9-1-1 center can remember at least one time they’ve dealt with somebody that was in a dangerous situation that really didn’t need to be talking on the phone and this is a perfect opportunity for that where they can text,” Bass said. “It’s silent, you don’t have to worry about anybody hearing you and you can still get the help that you’re looking for.”
Escambia County hopes to be another county in Northwest Florida to receive 9-1-1 text messages. Unfortunately, they can’t put a time frame on it. Both counties said texting during an emergency should never be a priority. Bass said, “Call if you can, text if you can’t. It is going to be slower texting than it is talking on the phone.”
Okaloosa County currently does not have text messaging capabilities. They do not have it budgeted and are looking to see what state funds are available.