Memphians will soon be able to seek emergency help through text

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis residents will soon be able to seek emergency help from both fire and police just by sending a text.

On Thursday, the Memphis Police Department said they are still working out the logistics with cell phone providers, but promised the service would be available soon.

Shelby County 911 told WREG they don't have a specific date yet, but the service should be ready in the next two to four weeks.

Rita Johnson knows how quickly emergencies pop up. She was home earlier this week when police say someone fired at a car full of people. First responders found a man shot and a woman grazed by a bullet, right by Johnson's north Memphis home.

"I heard the shots. We were sitting down eating dinner, and I heard, 'Pow, pow, pow," she said. It's a lot going on now. It's too much going on.

She's thankful someone immediately dialed 911. She's also happy to hear you'll also be able to text in emergencies too. "I think that would be wonderful."

If implemented, the city of Memphis will be the first in the state to utilize the service.

Of course, the Federal Communications Commission stated that there are some things to keep in mind if you plan on taking advantage of the new service.

When you call 911 most of the time the dispatcher will automatically have access to certain information like your phone number and your general location. However, when you text in your emergency, dispatchers will not receive that information, meaning you'll have to provide them all the needed information before they can send someone to you.

If you don't know that information, don't send them everything right away or your text message doesn't go through, there may be a delay in getting you the needed help.

However, the FCC noted that the service is great for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, and during certain situations where it would be dangerous to speak.

In order to utilize the service, you must have the ability to send text messages and a wireless service subscription with a wireless phone company.

"I think it couldn't be bad. Anything that's going to help can't be bad," resident Gregory Patterson said.

If the texting service is unavailable, users will get a message with other instructions on what to do. As for those who abuse the service with false reports, they'll be prosecuted.

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