Allegheny County's first text message to 911 made while driving
Allegheny County's first text message to 911 is an example of what not to do.
Hours after County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced Verizon Wireless customers could send text messages to emergency dispatchers, the 911 center received a text reporting a potential drunken driver in Pittsburgh, said county spokeswoman Amie Downs. The text indicated the sender was driving at the time, Downs said.
Texting while driving has been illegal in Pennsylvania since March 2012.
“This is one that probably should have been better served by a phone call,” Downs said.
Allegheny County on Wednesday became the fifth county statewide to offer the ability to text 911. The county started the service to help people who are hearing- or speech-impaired or who are experiencing an emergency when making a phone call could endanger them. Calling 911 is still the most effective way to reach a dispatcher, county officials said.
Expanding the service to other major carriers — Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile — should be easier now that the technology is in place to receive Verizon text messages, said Elliott Hamilton, a senior director of marketing for TeleCommunication Systems of Annapolis, Md.
TeleCommunication Systems installed software at Allegheny County's dispatch center, allowing it to receive text messages. It can handle all other carriers, and the county can tell wireless companies it is ready, Hamilton said.
Allegheny County in February requested wireless providers offer the service, Downs said. Verizon was the only one to respond.
Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T have 911 text messaging capability but did not provide details about when it would be available in Allegheny County. County officials have not heard from the companies.
Non-Verizon customers in Dauphin County, the first to offer texting to 911, are waiting, said Emergency Management Director Steve Libhart. In the seven months since rolling out the Verizon-only service, no other carriers have been included. The county has received one real emergency via text message, Libhart said.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fingerprint expert says defendant’s prints were on cyanide bottle
- Homewood welcomes nonprofit Animal Rescue League’s new shelter, clinic
- Defense witness testifies on video, absent jurors, of cyanide alternatives
- Warrant issued for North Side teen in Penn Hills shooting
- Newsmaker: Matthew Zupetic
- 32nd District seat in Pa. perceived as pivotal for chamber control
- Slow-moving train hits car in Lawrenceville
- Pittsburgh forum on bullying urges vigilance
- 3 named to new Pittsburgh land bank group
- Moon Area School District considers installing solar panels for electricity
- Movie studio owner building in McKees Rocks is $540K in red