TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana is celebrating two years of Text-to-911 services and Vigo County is getting some special recognition.
In Indiana, 911 services report to the Treasurer of State. Treasurer Kelly Mitchell chairs the 911 Board and is visiting the top twenty-five dispatch centers.
"My role on the Statewide 911 Board is a unique one", said Treasurer Mitchell. "I look forward to meeting with dispatchers and directors to learn more about what our board can do to assist them at a local level."
Mitchell toured the Vigo County Dispatch facility Thursday afternoon.
Vigo County ranks 7th in the state for overall program usage which includes incoming and outgoing messages.
Mitchell says, "We thought it would be used by people who are hard of hearing or who are having difficulty speaking and it certainly has been used in those incidents but it's also being used by people who don't want to draw attention to the fact that they're calling for help and so that's just been very interesting to see and very rewarding to see how it's being used."
Steven Roadruck is a Vigo County dispatcher. He explains the program has been lifesaving.
Roadruck says, "I've honestly seen a really good response from the community as far as reception and people using it."
Mitchell and Roadruck agree, calling is still the best way to communicate but if you need to text 911 you should give the most important information right away.
Roadruck says, "First and foremost: location. If nothing else, as long as we know where you're at, we can send you somebody."
Officials with the State Treasurer's office say 173,213 text sessions statewide occurred to and from dispatchers in the first year of service.
Mitchell says she hopes to acknowledge the work these dispatchers do on her statewide tour.
"A lot of them have eight-hour shifts, 12-hour shifts and they talk to people in some of the worst moments of their lives and just wanted to recognize them for the incredible work they do for Hoosiers."
Local dispatchers told Treasurer Mitchell many texts out of the center are for 911 hang-ups. They say texting has been an effective way of finding out if a call is really an emergency.
Roadruck says it was nice to have the Treasurer in for a visit so she can see how the program operates.
Roadruck says, "Honestly, they were a little bit impressed with what they saw so that's honestly a good feeling as well."
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