• Texting 911 expands in Snohomish County

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    EVERETT, Wash. - Soon Texting 911 will be available in SW Snohomish County. SNOCOM dispatch is testing the technology right now.

    SNOCOM handles 911 service for SW Snohomish County, including Lynnwood, Edmonds, Brier, and Mountlake Terrace.

    Texting 911 helps people who are unable to call 911 because it isn't safe.

    It will also be helpful for residents unable to talk - Snohomish County has about 25,000 deaf or hearing-impaired residents.

    Emergency operators said it is still best to call.

    "Call if you can, text if you can't.  Voice is the choice. Texting technology is a back-and-forth exchange of information; it's not fluid and interactive like voice calls are," said Debbie Grady, executive director of SNOCOM.

    Texting 911 does have limitations - operators don't get a sense of the situation can't hear background noise or the intensity in the caller's voice.

    Texting 911 went into operation in Kistap County last month. King County is working on it and hopes to be up and running by the end of the year.

    More than 8,000 texts were sent to 911 in Washington and rejected last year showing operators the need for Texting  911.

    "It's what we should be doing, 911 evolves rapidly, changes in our environment are constant. It's really the first step in next-generation 911," added Grady

    Photos and video will not be accepted when Texting 911 begins in SW Snohomish County later this year. Grady said that is the next step.

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