Text to 911 will likely save lives

Anyone who has had a cellphone for five minutes knows about dead spots ó areas with no signal bars and no phone service. Often, these locales are in remote places, though they can be 5 feet from where you were standing a minute ago.

Itís inconvenient when you need to make a call but canít. Aunt Martha needs to know about the sale at the market. Best friend Phil might want to join you on the lake. And itís never a bad time to call Mom or Dad just because.

But some calls are life-and-death important.

Calls to 9-1-1 emergency service dispatchers often come with lethal consequences, and the police, firefighters and medical personnel the dispatchers send on their hurried way start their journey because of a phone call.

Until now.

Cape Girardeau Countyís 911 dispatchers are able to receive emergency texts from anyone within the confines of the county. These texts will serve the same purpose as a call when a call is not possible ó and that happens more often than you might think.

In the aftermath of a storm that knocks down cell towers. When the person in distress is in a remote location, obscured by the forest or hills. When a person in danger canít talk, lest her abuser hear.

In many situations, usage spikes render cellphone systems unable to handle the call volume, and no calls go through. Even in those times, a text will often find its intended recipient.

Text to 911.

The new technology is available to the county through grant funding, and county authorities were correct in securing it. This upgrade to such an important service will help protect those in Cape Girardeau County. It will most likely save lives.

If thatís not an investment worth making, what is?

Our cellphones have become ubiquitous, always with us and usually in our hand. In short order, text to 911 should become the norm across Southeast Missouri.