Kalamazoo County receiving 911 texts

“Call if you can, text if you can’t"

A 911 dispatcher. (File)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County is joining a handful of other counties in West Michigan to provide text-to-911 service.

The Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch Authority has been working with other police agencies in the area since August 2016 to add the emergency texting option.

After a couple months of testing, the text-to-911 service went live in Kalamazoo County on Wednesday.

Dispatchers stick by the slogan: “Call if you can, text if you can’t.” They say the fastest way for them to send help is to speak to someone over the phone, but they also realize that’s not always an option.

“While this is only an interim solution, it does provide another avenue for individuals to contact 911 during a time of need,” said Jan Van Der Kley, chairperson of KCCDA’s Board of Directors.

Dispatchers say the location of the emergency is the most important information when texting 911. Users must also be ready to answer questions and follow instructions.

Kalamazoo County joins Ottawa, Ionia, Barry, Calhoun, St Joseph and Berrien counties in offering text-to-911. Currently, Allegan, Kent, Muskegon and Newaygo counties don’t offer the service.