9 Investigates: Text-to-911 provides opportunity, risks

Taylor Holloman-Pressley never heard the voice on the other end of the 911 call. She never had a chance to. She never called.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Taylor Holloman-Pressley never heard the voice on the other end of the 911 call. She never had a chance to. She never called.

"The whole scene just escalated, and literally I was afraid for my life," Holloman-Pressley said.

She endured a toxic domestic relationship for nearly a year. She said texting 911 might have helped get her out sooner. Luckily, a family member eventually stepped in.

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"I don't think I would have gotten out of it. If even alive," she said.

Domestic violence victims are among the reasons counties across the Carolinas and country are moving to allow texting 911.

"There are certain advantages," said Lloyd Moskowitz, Gaston County 911 director. "Certainly if you're in a situation, a domestic situation, certainly the deaf community, speech impaired, hearing impaired people."

Gaston County's 911 center can already receive texts. Director Lloyd Moskowitz showed Eyewitness News how it works.

It took about 26 seconds for the message to go through.

Moskowitz said if it was a phone call, they could have already dispatched an ambulance or other emergency services.

The other issue with 911 texting is identifying location, 911 centers told Eyewitness News.

Unlike a call from your cellphone, which figures out your location using three cell towers, a text message goes to one tower.

In order to find out where you are, you have to tell the 911 center.

"We do not have what we call a 'dispatchable' location," he said. "We cannot tell precisely where you are."

Authorities in Mecklenburg and Chester counties told Channel 9 they are holding off on 911 texting right now because it's too sluggish.
However, Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association, said it's better to accept texts than not.
"I would rather ensure that 911 is there to benefit the public rather than not deploying it for fear that there may be some circumstance somewhere, sometime that texting might not be beneficial," Fontes said.
Moskowitz said he is glad his county is accepting texts and now he hopes the technology makes it better.
"I would much rather have seen the technology get to the point where the phone manufacturers would change their equipment," he said.

Status of 911 Centers as of April 30:

  • Burke County Emergency Communications Center: Accepts texts
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Does not accept texts
  • Chester County: Does not accept texts
  • Cleveland County 911: Accepts texts
  • Cornelius 911 Center: Accepts texts
  • Gaston County: Accepts texts
  • Iredell County: Does not accept texts
  • Shelby 911: Accepts texts
  • Union County: Does not accept texts
  • York County 911: Does not accept texts

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