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Working 4 You: Issues with 911 texting service

Working 4 You: Issues with 911 texting service

SPOKANE, Wash. - For Richard Bain, Thursday began with a sinking feeling. He received a text message from his deaf son - claiming his car had been stolen, and authorities were not responding.

"He got a text back saying 'Call the main line,'" described Bain. "It won't accept texts when it should."

Frustrated, Bain rushed from his home in the Valley to his son's north Spokane apartment, where he dialed 911 and was greeted by a Spokane County Sheriff deputy within minutes - but Bain wanted answers; "I asked 'why didn't this text for 911 go through? We got a bounce back.' She told us she didn't know, that it should've worked."

Spokane County 911 Operations Manager Amy McCormick agrees, the text should've gone through, but due to the 15-month-old service, some texts do go unanswered.

"We were, I believe, the third county in the state of Washington to go live with the interim service, and I say 'interim' because it's not delivered over the same way a voice call is delivered, so there's no guarantee of delivery."

While 911 has been clear to the community regarding the embryotic status of the service, Jeff's case seemed to check all the correct boxes; he texted well within Spokane County from a major service provider, Verizon.

"The best we're able to backtrack through the company that's providing the interim solution," explained McCormick, "is to conclude that there's a malfunction with the cell phone, or it was missing routing information from Verizon. So Verizon sent that bounce back message."

Curious, and with McCormick's permission we tried the service, and were receiving responses from a dispatcher within seconds. While the interim function seemed to work flawless for us, it still leaves the exceptions, like Richard Bain, frustrated.

"It's a stolen car, it's gone. No one's hurt, that's the most important thing - but getting 911 to work right, that's crucial."