The use of the three digit emergency number 9-1-1 hits it's 50th anniversary in a few days. The very first 9-1-1 call was made on February 16th, 1968, in Alabama.
People anywhere outside the city limits of Pueblo are now able to text a message directly to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office communication center. While calling is typically the best way to communicate with 911, there are instances when texting is a better option. Texting is often preferred for those with access and functional needs.
"This truly is cutting-edge technology that is being implemented across the country, and you know, obviously we're proud to be the first one in southern Colorado to have it," Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said.
The system also has benefited victims in situations where silence is needed for their safety, such as with domestic violence or kidnapping.
The Sheriff’s Office 911 center is the answering point for several rural locations where a cell phone signal is too weak to send a voice call.
We have areas where if you're out and about on your cell phone, you actually can't dial a phone call," said Lisa Shorter, communications manager at the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office. "But, a text message takes a lot less signal strength, so you can send a text message."
Sheriff Taylor said he thinks the new program will give his office more capability in protecting the public, especially on rescue calls.
"It's really going to increase our ability to find and rescue lost hikers or people in the mountains," he said.
The Text-to-911 availability provides for messages to be exchanged easily when there is a weaker signal. This new feature now allows for emergency communication to occur from remote and mountain locations in Pueblo County, which had not existed in the past.
The communications center offers these tips when using the Text-to-911 feature:
• Texts should be simple and concise and should not include abbreviations.
• It will continue to be important to pay close attention to what the 911 operator is asking and answer quickly.
• Individuals will need to provide an address or location early in the exchange.
• Photos and video exchange is not supported by the system.
• And most importantly citizens are urged to CALL WHEN THEY CAN, TEXT WHEN THEY MUST.
The Text to 911 service is paid for with Pueblo County Emergency Telephone Authority surcharge funds.
CLARIFICATION: The Text-to-911 technology upgrade cost a total of $45,000. The cost of the existing equipment in addition to the new equipment was $545,000