Updated methods of contacting 9-1-1 coming soon

Local News

DES MOINES — Everyone knows you can call 9-1-1. But, did you know you can text 9-1-1? Iowa is one of the few states that has updated its technology to texting. But with new funding, they want to take it a step further.

The West Des Moines Public Safety Facility is one of 113 call centers in the state of Iowa that’s getting a new upgrade called Next Generation 911.

Assistant Chief Dispatcher Rob Dehnert says being a dispatcher can be overwhelming.

“It goes from periods of sheer terror. People are calling in with everything. Anytime they need to summon the assistance of police, fire, and EMS and request those services that’s the calls they take.”

But getting that help is becoming easier.

Being able to send video to 9-1-1 is coming soon, says Program Manager Blake Derouchey.

“What’s coming is, also, video to 9-1-1. If you’re on the scene of an incident and you want to send video to responders you’ll be able to do that in the near future.”

Right now in the state of Iowa, you can text 911 for help.

With this upgrade, you’ll soon be able to add attachments that gives real time information to 9-1-1 dispatchers.

“Additional information about the caller that the old technology wasn’t capable of delivering to us.”

This will allow more appropriate responses on who to send.

“And it doesn’t really have anything to do with making sure responders get their faster. It really is just ensuring you call gets from that cell phone and is answered appropriately.”

Something else they’re working on is having your smart watch call for help when you’re not able to call 911. That technology is still in the works.

9-1-1 call centers have until March of 2022 to put this in place. The $2.5 million grant is coming from the Federal Government.

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