First responders now just one text away

First Responders now just one text away

St. Louis County First Responders are using a new service that allows people to text 911 if they are in an emergency, which makes it easier to locate someone and cuts response time.

When emergencies arise, calling 911 as soon as possible is always important. However, there might be certain situations where that is difficult, alongside first responders potentially having trouble locating where exactly to respond.

St. Louis County dispatchers are using new technology that allows someone to text 911 in emergencies. That text message can also alert first responders of their location when prompted, which can help reduce response times.

Ryan Stauber, who is an Emergency Communications Specialist with the St. Louis County 911 says “It uses the GPS antenna in one’s cell phone in order to provide us with a better location than using the traditional method of cellular triangulation, which we have been using for the past one or two decades.”

As many around the Northland like to be active and enjoy the great outdoors, knowing someone’s location is critical when emergencies do arrive. Stauber says the option to text first responders helps in those situations.

“Specifically on those calls where someone might be lost in the woods, maybe they were snowmobiling or something like that we are able to get a far more accurate location as to where they are, and it’s a lot easier to tell them to stay put, we know where you are, we’ll get help to you” he says.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says roughly 12 percent of Minnesotan families speak languages other than English in their homes. Using the option to text emergency responders can help bridge that gap. There might also be situations where calling isn’t just an option. Stauber says this also helps in their response.

“If someone is unable to or unwilling to speak to us and they prefer through the texting message, all they have to do is let us know that they need to use text. And that would be the best way for us to initiate the text back to them and allow us to communicate.” He says.

Stauber wants to remind everyone they shouldn’t be afraid to call 911. “We’re always here 24/7, 365, and we’ll help you figure out what’s going on and get proper resources to you” He says.