Text-to-911 coming to Brown County in 2017

It will help people in situations where they can't or are afraid to speak

911 dispatcher

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Brown County announced Wednesday that as early as 2017 cell phone users will be able to send a text message to 911.

It now joins neighboring Manitowoc County in northeastern Wisconsin that has the system.

Brown County officials say their text-to-911 system takes advantage of new technology that could help more people call for help.

“Improve upon the ability for those individuals to contact 911, it gives us the best opportunity to save lives,” said County Executive Troy Streckenbach.

The system will give people who are in dangerous situations another way to alert police and firefighters to an emergency. It also also gives people who are deaf and partially deaf direct contact with the call center.

“If I were to fall… and I’m injured, you know, and I’m unable to access my video phone, I’ll be able to have this text 911 available to me for faster service,” said Office of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing’s Nancy Harbison.

You just have to simply send a message to 911. But right now the county says a single text message doesn’t give a whole lot of information about location other than a cell tower site.

“It encompasses a pretty large area, so if we can’t get back to the person, what we’ll do is we’ll go through our normal resources, we’ll look if there were any other calls related to that number if there are we’ll try to see if we can get a person related to that phone number,” said Director of Brown County Public Safety Communications Cullen Peltier.

That’s why the county will push “Call when you can; text when you can’t” when the new text-to-911 service becomes active next year, because when you call it can be easier for them to pinpoint your location.

“And it’s hopefully going to be easier to get direct information from the person rather than trying to do it via text message,” said Peltier.