Ohio State students, that are unable to speak on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, will have a new way to notify police officers and firefighters for help. In the instance that a phone call isn’t reasonable, such as when someone is hiding quietly in a closet during a break-in and can’t call 911, due to recent technology, Ohio State University will allow callers  with a cellphone to send a text message to 911.“You can contact the police with information and nobody would know you’re sending it” said Ramona Patts, administrator in the Columbus Division of Support Services.Patts says Columbus, Dublin and the Metropolitan Emergency Consortium Communications, or MECC, in Gahanna will operate as the three primary dispatch hubs for other local agencies to tap into. That way, instead of each agency in Franklin county spending $650,000 to buy and maintain the system to handle texts to 911, just three will do that.In addition, Columbus, Dublin and Gahanna will own and maintain the computers, software and equipment that allows them to receive texts to 911, Patts says.“Ohio State will still continue to operate their communication centers that receive 911 calls and dispatch police officers and firefighters… [but] for text- to- 911 the Columbus dispatch hub will serve as a primary dispatch hub for the Ohio State University agency to tap into,” Patts says.The equipment from the Columbus dispatch hub will immediately reroute texts to 911 to their partner governments’ 911 centers, in this case, Ohio State University, Patts says.For example, when an OSU student uses a cellphone to text to 911 for help, the text will go to the system in Columbus and immediately be rerouted to Ohio State University, where authorities will respond.Jeff Ortega, the Department of Public Service spokesman says  the 911 call takers will see texts come through on a computer screen in a window that resembles a smartphone text-message chain. He says that although they will have multiple pre-programmed responses so that they can quickly assess the emergency, 911 call takers also can, and if necessary will,  type custom messages back to the caller.“Phone calls are still the preferred method to contact 911… with actual calls, call takers can listen to the background or for distress in the caller’s voice to get more information and give immediate answers to questions,” Jeff says.Additionally, Ortega says, calls also provide more precise location information. Therefore, call if you can but text if you can’t.


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