Orange County launches Text-to-911 cell phone service


GOSHEN – Orange County Government Tuesday rolled out a new emergency aid program for persons who are unable to make a phone call, but need emergency service.
It’s called Text-to-911 and Orange becomes the second county in the Mid-Hudson Valley to employ it. Dutchess began offering the service a couple of years ago.
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said the service can make the difference in saving a life especially when someone is in distress and cannot talk on the phone.
“It’s about being able to help people that may be impaired that they can’t use a phone or hearing impaired,” Neuhaus said.  “It’s also for people in an active shooter situation. They might not be able to call and talk to 911; they might only be able to use text. It is also great for situations where you have a home invasion, an abduction or a domestic violence incident.”
County Emergency Services Commissioner Brendan Casey said the program is for everyone, “but will be particularly useful to our citizens who are hearing or speech impaired.”
Sheriff Carl DuBois said the service will give residents and visitors another option to reach the county 911 center. “In some situations, it might save lives.”
When residents send a text message to the county 911 center, a special sound alerts the dispatcher that it has arrived and will appear on his or her computer screen. Residents will be instructed to enter 911 into the field and type a message with complete words and an address.
Nadia Allen, the executive director of the Mental Health Association in Orange County, said the new service will supplement her agency’s 24-hour crisis hotline.

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