The City of Los Angeles will conduct a study to evaluate the cost and best implementation strategy for a system that would allow people to text 911 to get help in emergencies.
Advocates say allowing texting to 911 would help the deaf community get emergency services. It would also serve people who may not be able to speak in an emergency, like if an intruder has broken into their house.
“The point of this not to replace our current 911 system but simply to expand it to give people in emergency need a greater range of options to be able to get help,” said LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian. He acknowledges talking is faster than texting for many people and in an emergency, seconds count. “It’s not going to take anything away from the existing 911 system. If someone can call, they will. If they can’t call for any reason, they need another option.”
LA Council members approved going forward with a study and want a report back from LA police and fire officials in six months about the cost of adding a 911 texting system and how to best implement it. Councilman Krekorian says 100 other cities around the country have such a system.
The Federal Communications Commission last month issued an order requiring wireless carriers be capable of supporting text-to-911 by the end of this year. However, the FCC said people should make voice calls to 911 during emergencies whenever possible.