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Program to text 911 launches Thursday in 71 Kansas Counties

Published: Nov. 1, 2017 at 5:36 PM CDT
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It's the biggest change to the Kansas 911 system in 50 years.

On Thursday, 71 Kansas counties will launch their new 911 text message system.

Michele Abbott emergency communications director for Reno County and Hutchinson says the change will benefit people unable to verbally communicate.

"It's important because we have a whole community out there who have never had immediate direct access to 911, texting is so vitally important for those who have speech impairments, hearing impairments, their safety is at risk. They're maybe hiding under a desk or someone is stalking them, even as much as human trafficking, they have the ability to text but not speak because their safety is at risk," said Abbott.

Program to text 911 launches Thursday in 71 Kansas Counties

Robert Cooper, executive director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing said via an interpreter the change was necessary.

"It's amazing there are no words to describe how happy I am and as well as the deaf community, sending a text message will say I need attention to what I need at the time, usually I cant look at the interpreter on the phone while I'm on the road so texting is ideal," said Cooper.

Abbott says the text message system, however, should not be used as a replacement for calling 911

"Call if you can, text if you can't. That immediate interaction between the dispatcher and the caller is most important to get all the details quickly, not have to decipher through text," said Abbott.

Photos, videos and emojis at the moment will not be accepted by the new system, it's best to use plainspoken text.

For a complete list of the participating counties, visit