Residents can text 911 in Paulding Co. - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Residents can text 911 in Paulding Co.

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PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. -

Calling 911 in an emergency is an automatic response for most -- but soon, there will be a new way of contacting 911. You'll be able to text 911.

The technology is just rolling out, and Paulding County is the first in the state of Georgia to make it available.

As of April 1st, Paulding County residents who have Verizon Wireless can now text 911 in an emergency.

Tina Howell of Dallas, says, it seems like a no brainier. "As soon as the word gets out, I suppose you'll be back out here doing a story in the near future about how it saved someone's life," Howell said.

You simply text 911 and the message pops up in the 911 system back at the call center. Christina Cooper, deputy director of 911 for Paulding county says the technology can be hugely beneficial.

"There's tons of emergency situations where you're hiding in a closet or you might be around someone you don't want to know that you're calling, or you're scared for them to know you're calling or when calling 911 could get you in trouble," said Cooper. She says it's also ideal for people who are hearing or speaking impaired.

But texting 911 has significant disadvantages. First and foremost, the time it takes for you to type and send your text message. Those valuable seconds can be the difference between life and death. Secondly the 911 operator is not able to hear what's going on in the background or hear the tone in your voice.

That's why officials can't stress enough that calling 911 should always be your first choice. Being able to text it...is just an added bonus. "It's necessary and it's going to happen, whether people want it to happen or not - it's a good thing for the public," said Cooper.

Only those who have Verizon Wireless can text 911 right now.

Cooper says the other major carriers, like T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T -- will be rolling out the technology in May.

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