By Trevor Busch
Taber 9-1-1, a division of the Taber Police Service, recently announced Text with 9-1-1 Service (T9-1-1) is now available to assist the deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) community.
“We do have that service available now in the community, that requires people who are deaf or hard of hearing to be able to register with their cellphones and download an app which allows them to be able to text to 9-1-1, and our operators to be able to text back to them to allow someone to know that they have an emergency and to provide an effective response,” said TPS chief Graham Abela at the Taber Municipal Police Commission’s Jan. 16 meeting.
In order to utilize the service, a mobile phone must first be active and registered with a wireless service provider and must be a compatible cellphone, but T9-1-1 is not available to the general public.
“I had assumed that you could text 9-1-1, but apparently you have to be registered for this here?” questioned Coun. Joe Strojwas, who serves as one of two town council representatives to the commission. “So if I text in a call, it doesn’t register because I’m not registered?”
During an emergency, T9-1-1 provides registered 9-1-1 call centers with the ability to converse with a registered DHHSI mobile phone, through text messaging. But Abela confirmed utilizing the service requires a pre-registration process.
“So what if I was in distress, and texted that distress in, what would happen to that 9-1-1 call?” said Strojwas.
“Nothing. You have to dial the number 9-1-1,” replied Abela. “Now, if you dial the number 9-1-1 and you don’t talk, and you don’t do anything, and just let the phone ring through we will — as long as your phone is a smart phone, or you’re calling from a land-based line — we would be able to know where you are, and be able to send resources. And we do that all the time, but not from text, that’s not the technology that’s available. Unless you register for the program app.”
In agreement with Strojwas, Coun. Jack Brewin commented he was disappointed the service wouldn’t be more widely available to the general public.
“I’ll ask the question,” said Abela. “Dana Bell sits on the 9-1-1 standards group that looks at ways in which to improve and standardize 9-1-1 services within the province. I will see if they’re working on that. You’re asking technology questions that I don’t know the answer to, but you’re thinking the right way. Those could be some of the barriers to that system.”
The service is available for registered DHHSI users within the Town of Taber and M.D. of Taber including Grassy Lake, Enchant, Hays, Village of Barnwell and the Town of Vauxhall.
For additional information, including how to register a mobile phone for T9-1-1 service, please visit http://www.textwith911.ca/en/home/.