TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Friday kicks off National 911 Education Month.

From April 1-30, public safety organizations will conduct outreach to communities so they better know the resources available to them in the event of an emergency. One resource is www.know911.org, a virtual clearinghouse of emergency resources.

“This is important stuff to know about,” John Moore, director of Southern Idaho Regional Communications Center, told NewsRadio1310. “It’s important that people pay attention.”

Information on the website was collected by the National 911 Education Coalition, an alliance of emergency service organizations. In parts of our own Magic Valley and Blaine County, SIRCOMM joined with other agencies for the Text-to-911 service, which was launched on March 1.

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It’s better to call 911 in an emergency, but in some cases – such as in the event of a domestic violence or home invasion incident or if the potential caller is deaf or cannot speak, for instance – texting is the better option. The service’s motto is “Call If You Can, Text If You Must.”

When texting an emergency it’s important that users relay their location multiple times. Users will receive a “bounce-back” message if they text out of the system area.

“Users will need to give us the best location they possibly can,” Moore previously told the news radio station.

Dispatchers are able to handle multiple text messages at once. About 15 canned emergency responses are in place, but individual dispatchers will work each case as they are notified. Dispatchers will receive repeated messages until they respond to a text message.

Moore said two legitimate text-to-911 emergencies have been reported to SIRCOMM since March 1.

“Everything went the way it was supposed to,” he said.

Some tips when using the texting service or calling 911, according to information sent by SIRCOMM to news media on Wednesday morning, include:

  • Call If You Can, Text If You Must: Text-to-911 service is available in Blaine, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln and Twin Falls counties. If possible, a traditional voice call is still the best way to reach emergency services. Be prepared to provide detailed information on where you are so that help can get to you as quickly as possible.
  • Know Your Location: Wireless calls to 911 provide location information, but dispatch personnel receiving the call may need more specific information.
  • Stay Calm and Don’t Hang Up: Until you are instructed to do otherwise, stay on the line so you can provide any necessary information or assistance to the 911 call receiver. Even if you accidentally call 911, don’t hang up. Inform dispatch that you dialed accidentally and that there is no emergency.

“For nearly five decades 911 has served as the vital link between the American public and emergency services. Public education and awareness initiatives have contributed in large measure to this incredible success,” Moore said in the prepared statement.

“The resources available at www.know911.org help educators, government officials, media representatives and concerned citizens alike promote ongoing, age-appropriate 911 education that can save lives.

“You don’t wake up in the morning thinking you are going to call 911. However, should you have to, it may be the most important call you ever make. That’s what makes 911 Education Month so very important. In an emergency, seconds matter; being knowledgeable and prepared can make all the difference.”