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If you're in Henderson, you can text to 911 in an emergency

Posted at 11:45 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 12:01:40-04

If you're in Henderson and you're having an emergency, you can actually text it to 911. It's the only police department in the state of Nevada to offer this. 

The capability has been around for two years and it's been used nearly 400 times but not enough people know about it.

Jason Gacek in the Henderson Police Communications Center walks us through how it works.

It's as simple as sending a text saying you have an emergency to the number 911. A dispatcher will hear the ping sound and respond by asking where your emergency is located even though a GPS location is provided as soon as the text is sent.

"It's wonderful," said Communications Operator Jason Gacek. "I'm surprised we hadn't gotten to it a long time before that. The technology is amazing."

It's important to note, you should not text 911 instead of calling but rather in those moments where calling would not be safe or if you are hearing impaired.

"If you were kidnapped and you were in the trunk of a car and you scream or yell or call, obviously the bad guy knows," said Gacek. "But if you had the ability to text us where you were at, it's life saving, it's amazing."

Or what if there was an active shooter.

"Horrible things have happened at schools across the country," said Gacek. "It would be very beneficial when people are trying to hide from the bad guy and can't call because even whispering they are going to hear you."

Or what if you're in a domestic violence situation.

"I'm surprised everyone is not doing it across the nation because it really is a great technology and for us to be the only one in Nevada, it makes me, it makes most of us proud that we have that capability," said Gacek.

Texting to 911 is also extremely beneficial for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Thousands of people fall under that category here in the valley and hardly any of them know this technology exists.

"Is it a great program?" asked Kevin Carter the Executive Director of Deaf Centers of Nevada. "It's a wonderful program. Is it a program that we want to see continue to grow within the state? Absolutely. Would we, a deaf center, support that? 100%"

Tim Smalley is deaf and he lives in Henderson. Just a few weeks ago, he witnessed an emergency. He didn't know he could text 911 so he logged on to a special phone application that allowed him to video chat with an interpreter in order to relay the emergency to the dispatch center.

"That situation a few weeks ago, I think text to 911 would have been better," said Smalley.

You don't have to live in Henderson to take advantage of texting to 911 but you do have to make sure you are within Henderson borders.