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MailTribune.com
  • Just don't text 911 while driving

  • I have a friend living in Indiana who said that she can text 911. I told her I have never heard of being able to do that, but she assured me it's true. She said it just started. It sounds like it could be helpful in some emergencies and I am wondering whether we can do this in Oregon? I am afraid to try!
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  • I have a friend living in Indiana who said that she can text 911. I told her I have never heard of being able to do that, but she assured me it's true. She said it just started. It sounds like it could be helpful in some emergencies and I am wondering whether we can do this in Oregon? I am afraid to try!
    — Amanda G., via email
    We Oregonians can't do it yet, Amanda, but the time will soon come.
    The ability to text 911 has been rolled out in several states across the country, but Oregon has opted for a more thorough — and slower — approach than others.
    Indiana went live with text-to-911 for Verizon Wireless customers in May 2014, and so far it has the most counties online out of any state, so it comes as no surprise that your Hoosier friend took notice.
    The Federal Communications Commission has mandated that all wireless service carriers prove text-to-911 service by the end of the year, so that service will expand in Indiana.
    A dozen other states have a handful of counties each where citizens are able to text 911. They are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
    Oregon has no concrete timeline for when text-to-911 will be rolled out here. Only two things are definite: it will happen eventually, and it will be entire state that gets it in one fell swoop rather than a county-by-county implementation, said Mark Tennyson, a director at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
    Tennyson's Salem-based department is in charge of the text-to-911 roll out in Oregon.
    Margie Moulin, director of Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon, said the technology is absolutely there, its just a matter of upgrading dozens of emergency dispatch centers across the state with the proper hardware to take on text messages.
    And don't be afraid, Amanda. If you do text 911 in Oregon right now, you'll only receive a bounce-back text alerting you to call 911.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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