Vanderburgh Co. not buying into 911 texting for emergencies

Vanderburgh Co. not buying into 911 texting for emergencies
FCC PSAP Text-to-911 readiness map
FCC PSAP Text-to-911 readiness map

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - According to law enforcement, many Indiana counties are turning to 911 texting for emergencies.

It gives you the ability to send a message to dispatch, if there's an emergency.

But one county in the Tri-state is sticking by it's decision not to use the texting system.

Those in support of the 911 texting for emergencies say it could be used for specific situations.

A kidnapping, a case of domestic violence, or a robbery.

When you need help, you call 911.

Vanderburgh County, the 4th largest in Indiana, still doesn't have the 911 texting system.

But director says he's ok with that, for now.

"If it's not broke, why fix it," says Rodney Buchanan.

Vanderburgh County 911 dispatchers handle over 800 calls everyday.

Buchanan says since 2008, their call volume has increased 700%.

Buchanan says he recently visited Terre Haute, an area that does have 911 texting, to see how often it was utilized.

And he was surprised by what he didn't see.

" I sat there for 4 hours, and there was no texts received."

In neighboring Warrick County, dispatchers are using the 911 texting system.

But authorities say they haven't seen anyone use it for an emergency since it started a year ago.

" We haven't seen what we thought the typical 911 calls come through, but I think as time goes by we will," says Chief Deputy Mike Wilder.

Both Mike and Rodney agree, people want to call 911 to have that reassurance that there's a person on the other line providing support.

" People want to know they aren't alone.  Talking on the phone allows that.  Texting does not, in a way.  When people call 911, they aren't experiencing something good.  They want to have a person on the line who can walk them through what's probably a bad experience," says Buchanan.

Rodney says adding the texting element would mean more things for dispatchers to watch.  More monitors, means more people would have to be hired.

" I hate to take that service away from the community, for something that we're not quite sure of how it would work," says Buchanan.

" If we save just one life with texting, then it will be beneficial," says Wilder.

Vanderburgh County dispatch does have the software for texting capabilities but they aren't sure how compatible it will be new equipment in the coming years.

The dispatch center is asking for around $4 million in upgrades over the next three years.

For right now, they are holding off on adding the texting to 911 system.

Copyright 2015 WFIE. All rights reserved.