Emergency services across Manitoba have launched Text with 911, the first provincewide service in Canada.
Ross Robinson, the city’s director of emergency communications, said he is pleased the program is up and running for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired community.
“We’re happy to be able to provide a greater service to the citizens of Manitoba, and though we hope never to use it, we realize there are going to be emergencies and we’re glad we can help,” Robinson said.
The Text with 911 service was launched in Manitoba on Tuesday.
The nationwide T911 initiative was sparked by a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision last year.
A deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired person will be able to text emergency details to the dispatcher, following the initial voice call to 911.
The operator will be notified by the call screen that the user needs to communicate via text message. A voice call will always be maintained because the operator must be able to hear the noises in the background of the call.
“The deaf, hard of hearing, speech-impaired community have, previous to this, only been able to contact 911 using their (teletype),” Robinson said.
In Canada, Text with 911 is also available in the Peel Region of Ontario, Calgary, as well as three B.C. districts — Metro Vancouver, Squamish Lillooet Regional District South and Sunshine Coast Regional District.
Users need to register to T911 with their wireless service provider.
Robinson estimates 350 Manitobans will need the 911 text-messaging service. As of this week, 50 people in Manitoba have registered. Of those, Robinson estimates 40 are actual users, with the others being emergency services personnel for testing purposes.
People are encouraged to visit textwith911.ca for more information on the service.
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