CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found a growing number of people trying to get help from police and emergency crews without ever saying a word. They are texting 911.
A year ago, the I-Team gave you the first look at the new system to send text messages to 911 dispatchers in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. So we checked back. Anyone using the system?
We found people are, in fact, texting for help. Take the case of a young mother recently in a domestic dispute. She felt it was too dangerous to talk to a dispatcher, so she exchanged text messages and got help.
She told the I-Team, "I was very nervous. So I was able to secretly text on the side. They came to the location where I was, and they were able to take over the situation.”
Another woman recently texted as she had a medical emergency. And another reported thieves in her parking lot prowling around.
Not as many people have texted 911 as officials expected, but the calls are increasing.
Last year, Cuyahoga County dispatchers took in 82 text messages to 911. Already this year, 75.
We have also requested numbers from the Cleveland 911 center, and the city has not yet responded.
Shawn Smith, a supervisor in the Cuyahoga County communications center, said, "911's changing constantly throughout the nation.”
She added, soon, new technology will also help connect texters with rescue crews wherever they are more quickly. Smith said, "It'll allow the municipalities where the actual emergency is taking place to take over and continue their communications without us being involved."
Dispatchers say you should call if you can, and text if you can’t. Ask the woman in that domestic dispute. She added, "It is wonderful. I love that service."
So texting 911 is catching on, but only a handful of counties in Ohio have the technology including Cuyahoga County.