Texting 911 will be an option soon
BATON ROUGE - Area residents with an emergency will soon have an alternate way of getting help sent their way as local EMS dispatchers roll out the ability to accept text messages.
Officials in East and Baton Rouge parishes are now in the testing phase of a new text message system that they hope to have fully operable by this coming fall. The alternative method for contacting EMS can be vital for individuals who are suffering a stroke or have a speech/hearing impairment that makes it impossible for them to call for help.
"Many patients when they start suffering from a stroke, one of the first signs or symptoms of that is difficulty speaking sometimes you can't speak at all," said Mike Chustz, EMS Public information Officer. Chustz says the ability to text while experiencing these symptoms can be potentially lifesaving.
There's a multitude of ways the new system can help people get EMS attention as soon as possible.
"Maybe a bicycle wreck or car accident where they get a broken jaw something like that where they really can't speak clearly and dispatchers can't understand what they're saying," said Chustz. "So, texting would be very advantageous to someone like that."
Proponents of the 911 texting system say the system could also benefit individuals who are in trouble but can't speak on the phone to reach out for help.
Many locals say it's a good idea given other situations that people may find themselves in like an abduction.
"You know you can call 911 on your cell phone, but it just seems to be safer and it maybe more discreet as far as unsafe situations or maybe if you fearful for your life," said Dena White, a resident who sees the value in the added functionality.
Officials who are overseeing the implementation of the 911 texting system say it will cost about $25,000 to get the texting system fully up and running.