Iowans Can Text For Help In Emergencies, But Need To Be Sure It’s The Best Option

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  "Call 9-1-1 if you can, text when you can't," was the recommendation from Iowa's top disaster official on Tuesday. It was part of Governor Kim Reynolds' weekly news conference that reminded Iowans that texting could be an option in asking for help in an emergency.

The administration said all but 15 Iowa counties currently allow users to send a text message to 9-1-1 to reach out for emergency assistance, and officials say the service should be available to all counties by the end of the year.

"Iowans are able to send a text to 9-1-1 when a voice call would put them in danger or when a medical condition makes it impossible for them to speak," Reynolds said.

But officials cautioned that calling for help could be quicker and more accurate than sending a text. However, in situations where calling isn't possible or isn't safe, texting could be the best alternative.

Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten said texting has already proved valuable in the state. Schouten cited recent cases, including a "suspected intruder into a home, a domestic assault incident, a sexual assault in progress, and a child who used it to report being kidnapped."