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Thompson-Okanagan residents with hearing or speech disabilities can now text 911

Residents of the Thompson-Okanagan with hearing and speech disabilities can now text 9-1-1 in an emergency.
September 21, 2016 - 8:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – People with hearing and speech disabilities can now reach 911 emergency services by text.

The service is now available throughout the Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, Central Kootenay, Columbia-Shuswap, Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson-Nicola, East Kootenay, Kootenay-Boundary and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts, according to a media release.

The service is being delivered by E-Comm, the emergency communications centre responsible for answering 911 calls in the central and southern interiors, in partnership with local emergency service agencies.

Treasurer of the Okanagan Valley Association of the Deaf Gordon Rattray says deaf people in the past were limited to using a phone relay or telephone typewriter which can take ten minutes or even longer.

“The Association is very excited to have T911 in the interior regional districts and we look forward to helping promote the availability of this service with the DHHSI community. We’re proud of this enhancement to emergency services that E-Comm provides,” he says.

The system is only available to those who have pre-registered their numbers with their wireless carrier and must place a voice call to 911 first in order to establish a network connection and initiate the technology.

“When E-Comm receives a 911 call from a DHHSI person who has pre-registered for the service, an alert will trigger at the 911 centre to indicate there is a DHHSI caller on the line,” the release says. “The 911 call-taker will then launch the special messaging system, allowing them to communicate with the caller through a special text session. This will ensure they get the emergency service they need.”

It is important to emphasize that this service is only available to the DHHSI community but that could change in the future.

“Text messages sent directly to the digits ‘911’ do not reach emergency services anywhere in Canada,” it says. “Text with 911 for the public-at-large is anticipated in the future as the nationwide 911 infrastructure evolves.”

Visit the Text with 911 website to register or to learn more.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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