Manassas Park Candidate Says Texting 911 Should Be an Option

Jeanette Rishell, candidate for Manassas Park City Council, said she thinks Verizon should investigate why 911 failed after the June 30 derecho in Northern Virginia.

People living in Manassas Park and surrounding jurisdictions should have the option of texting 911 for help in case of emergencies, said

“Wireless customers in Vermont are already participating in a six-month trial in which they may send a text message to 911 for emergency assistance,” Rishell said.

 “I believe it would be in the best interests of the residents of Manassas Park as well as other jurisdictions in Virginia, if inquiry were made as to the feasibility of implementing this type of process. Manassas Park could be a catalyst for this in a forward thinking and proactive way.”

While the system is a good idea, it does have its limitations, she said.

There's a 160-character limit and, of course, typing a message and waiting for a response from the dispatcher takes longer than placing a call, Rishell said. Plus, the messenger has to provide his or her location, she added. 

Texting 911 could be a failsafe for residents

E-911 dispatch went offline in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

The service was restored in Fairfax County less than 24 hours after the storm, but the other aforementioned jursidictions continued experiencing problems for several days, Prince William County Communications Director J

For example, a person would call 911 from Manassas Park and the dispatcher who picked up would be miles away in another part of Northern Virginia, city and county officials said earlier this month.

"... While there were also some cell phone outages, our family had access to text (and voice) mobile phone communication long before our house phone service was restored," Rishell said.

Rishell said she joins



MP Resident 09 July 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM
There are many people who do not have land lines and use just cell phones. My cell service did not work for much of the day following the storms. I was able to communicate with family and friends through the internet and email though. While texting is also a good option to have, internet should also be on the table in the form of emails or chat. The more ways we can contact emergency services, the better.
Jamie M. Rogers July 10, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I agree, Resident. It would probably take a major upgrade to begin offering alternatives to calling 911. I know Prince William County allows its residents to report crimes via email. We did a story about it a few months ago here's the link: : http://patch.com/A-nMhf
Isaac Cohen July 10, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I like the idea of text and also like Resident's idea. I think it would only take a software upgrade or whatever. anyway, the more ways we communicate the better


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