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Central Florida’s text-to-911 puzzle is almost complete

Florida is moving toward text-to-911 in every county by the end of 2021. Image: Florida Department of Management Services

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Lake County wants you to know that if you have an emergency in its jurisdiction, you can now send a text to 911.

Just put in your location and describe the emergency.

In Central Florida, Lake is the second-to-last county to offer text-to-911. It’s for the hearing impaired and people in situations where they can’t talk – like during a home invasion.

Osceola was the first. The county’s Lizette Resto says most of the texts they get are not emergencies.

“This last, past year in 2019, we received 743 texts, and more than half of them were either people testing out the system, kids messing around with their phone and just texting 911,” she said.

Texting is for people with emergencies, Resto said. “But we always prefer to get a phone call, because a phone call is much faster. With texting we have to type in the question, send it, wait for their response. So it takes a little time when we’re texting back and forth.”

The last piece of the Central Florida coverage puzzle, Polk County, gets 911-texting later this year.

Statewide, 45 counties have already added text-to-911, five are in the process adding it, 13 are planning to go live this year, and four are slated for next year.

Orange County has tips on how to send a text to 911: You should provide an exact location and the nature of the emergency, but don’t use emojis or videos or images — just plain old words.


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes

Reporter

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.

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