At the Paducah McCracken County 911 call center, employees are learning a new way to trace emergency alerts without having to answer a phone call.
"A majority of the folks texting these days on the smart-phone versus making phone calls, we're like everybody else - see the need to move in that direction," said Director Brent Stringer.
The FCC will launch the new text to 911 program in select cities next week. Paducah is not on that list yet and Stringer says for good reason. "There's several questions that we want to get answers to as far as it will impact the 911 call center," he said.
Those questions include locating an individual who may have been kidnapped and is on the move, determining whether there is a possible delay in receiving the text and picking out the real emergencies versus the bogus ones.
"We don't have that luxury in a text message. There's no voice inflections that are related to a text message," Stringer said.
The new method is getting praise from one local agency. "That's wonderful. It's wonderful to give people as many options as we can to be able to access the help they need," said Jennifer Villarreal.
She's a licensed professional clinical counselor for Four Rivers Behavioral Health. She said victims of sexual assault could benefit from the service.
"Specifically those who are very anxious about actually talking about their feelings to somebody or actually saying the words that they are in a crisis," Villarreal said.
Stinger also wants to know how to prioritize the text alerts and says each one, like a phone call, should be taken seriously. "Our mission is to make sure we answer all those calls," he said.
For complete details on how the program works, visit the FCC website, here.