Frederick Co. 911 center prepared to handle emergency calls via text message

(WJLA) - Dispatchers are working out of the backup 911 center in Frederick County on Wednesday, ready for a crisis. But this team is already prepared for the future in a way that few others are.

"We were very proactive and really tried to be upfront to be one of the first counties to be able to provide this service to our citizens," said Chip Jewell.

When Jewell started in emergency communications, 911 did not even exist. Now, the center he oversees is only one of a handful in the country with the capability to handle emergencies via text message.

"The first thing we ask is, 'Can you make a voice call?' because voice calls are much more effiicent and quicker than texting."

But calls to this crew aren’t always possible. Frederick County is home to the Maryland School for the Deaf, who can now text "911" for help; so can people in accidents, or those dealing with intruders who need to remain quiet.

People who live in the area like having a safety backup to reach dispatchers – not just for themselves, but for their families too.