Cities Begin to Explore 911 Texting Options After Orlando

A police car rushes to the emergency call with lights turned onThe Federal Communications Commission reports that out of more than 6,000 dispatch centers nationwide, a little more than 650 can accept text messages, with more than 150 making the text-to-911 upgrade this year.

During the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, victims who were trapped could not call 911, and as a result, texted family members instead.

Eddie Justice was among several victims who texted relatives to call 911, fearing they would draw too much attention by making voice calls.

None of them could text 911 directly because Orlando is among the vast majority of U.S. cities that don’t have that capability. Amid a cluster of deadly mass shootings, police departments are exploring technology that would allow dispatchers to receive texts, photos, and videos in real time.

The tragedy continues to touch the hearts of millions, including a large list of celebrities who have been reaching out via media and song.

Britney Spears, Adam Lambert, Gwen Stefani, and Selena Gomez are a few of the many contributors to a brand new single that pays tribute to the victims and families of the Orlando massacre.

Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and BloodPop co-wrote “Hands,” with Tranter and BloodPop co-producing it alongside Mark Ronson.

“The second I heard about this horrible tragedy where so many of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters lost their lives, I immediately got on a plane to Orlando,” Tranter said. “Putting this charity single together is just a way for me and everyone involved to keep volunteering our help.”

Proceeds from the star-studded track, titled “Hands,” will be donated to the Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.

As many as 63% of people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives, but the number of people who could be subject to active-shooter situations is increasing at an alarming rate. Supporters of the text-to-911 movement continue to look to Orlando to bring change about.

Emergency officials stress, however, that a voice call is preferred because a dispatcher can elicit details more quickly than texting back and forth.

The major concern for many cities, including some of the nation’s largest, is that overuse of texting when it’s not absolutely necessary could slow response times and cost lives.

Supporters of these systems say their use would go beyond active-shooter and hostage situations to scenarios of domestic abuse, in which a spouse or partner could message police without alerting their attacker.

The technology is ready and available to be used, but officials stress the importance of using it in emergency situations only.

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