Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Texting 911 for help

People use their cellphones for much more than phone calls. Yet in Florida, it remains impossible to text 911 for help. That should change soon in Pinellas and elsewhere as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to require all cellphone carriers to offer a text-to-911 service. It's wise for counties in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida to adopt a statewide emergency texting 911 service. It is particularly important in cases in which it's difficult to call 911, such as in domestic violence situations.

Four major cellphone companies — Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T — announced this week that they are providing emergency texting service to local governments that want it. These companies are moving ahead of the FCC requirement that all providers offer the service by the end of the year. The way it works is simple: Emergency dispatchers respond by text to locate the person seeking help, get information about the situation and provide instructions until responders arrive.

Local governments in 16 states now allow residents to text 911 for help, and implementing this service across Florida and the nation only makes sense. Text-to-911 is particularly advantageous for young adults who are more inclined to send a text than make a phone call. According to the Pew Research Center, cellphone owners between age 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 texts a day, or more than 3,200 texts per month. And it's not just teenagers who like to text. Pew also reported that a third of U.S. adults prefer texting to talking on the phone. Those who are more comfortable texting for help should be able to do it.

About 80 percent of the calls that come in to the Pinellas Emergency Call center are made on a cellphone, and Pinellas and Palm Beach counties have announced that text-to-911 will be available early next year. Other counties should follow suit. When people need help, there should be as many options as possible to get it. Texting to 911 is the next logical step.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

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Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Womenís work undervalued in bay area

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Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

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Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

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Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

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Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

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Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18