Texting to 9-1-1 Now an Option in Botetourt County, Va.
Botetourt County residents can now send text messages to 9-1-1 as part of recent improvements to the county’s emergency communications center.
However, county officials are urging most people to continue to call 9-1-1 in the traditional way.
The text message option is intended for people who have problems hearing or speaking or are in situations where speaking might put them in danger.
Absent those circumstances, it’s better to call 9-1-1 because texting from a mobile device can take longer and prevent dispatchers from getting an exact location of the call or hearing background noise that could be important, officials said.
The text-to-9-1-1 system is part of improvements to the communications center, which include a new phone system, that are being paid for at no cost to taxpayers by two grants that total $268,000, Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle said in a news release.
The state grants are funded by proceeds from a recent Medicaid fraud prosecution that produced a windfall that is now being distributed to localities.
It is the second recent upgrade to the county’s emergency communications network.
Starting this week, Botetourt County is using a new service that improves a notification system that can send alerts–via phone, email and social media–to residents during times of dire emergencies.