Call if You Can, Text if You Can't
Voice Calls to 911 Are Still the Best and Fastest Way to Contact 911
What is "Text-to-911" technology?
Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to 911 from your mobile phone or handheld device.
Can I send a text to 911?
Texting to 911 is not available in most areas of the United States as of now, however it is available in North Dakota statewide. The 911 industry is committed to working with wireless carriers and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to implement text-to-911 throughout the country in the next few years. Remember "Call when you can, text when you can't."
When should I text 911?
Text-to-911 is intended primarily for use in three emergency scenarios:
1. For an individual who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, or has a speech disability.
2. For someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 911.
3. A medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech.
Only text 911 in an emergency. Prank-texters can be identified and possibly prosecuted according to local laws/regulations.
How to text 911 in an emergency:
- Enter the number "911" in the "To" field;
- The first text message to 911 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed;
- Push the "Send" button.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
- Text in simple words- do not use abbreviations.
- Keep text messages brief and concise.
How will I know if 911 received my text?
- A 911 call center should respond to the text.
- If Text-to-911 is not available, you should receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that Text-to-911 is not available and that you must place a voice or relay call to 911.
Will my text go through if I don't have 3G or 4G service? Do I need Wi-Fi?
3G and 4G are data platforms that allow mobile devises to send and receive data. Typically, text messages (sent by using the phone keypad) work on a carrier's voice plan and do not require a data plan like 3G or 4G. However, some providers may use an app for texting on their phones. These apps may rely on a data plan, and therefore may not work if you don't have a 3G or 4G signal or access to Wi-Fi. If you have more questions, check with your wireless service provider about your device's text messaging capabilities.
What are the challenges with text-to-911 services?
- A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-911
- As with all text messages, Text-to-911 may take longer to receive and respond to than a voice call, does not provide the exact location of the texter and could be received out of order, or may not be received due to technical issues.
- Text GPS location information is not equal to current wireless location technology.
- Voice calls are real-time communication and Text-to-911 is not.
- Pictures or videos cannot be received by 911 at this time.
- If you include anyone else on your Text-to-911 it may not be received by 911.
Is there a charge to text-to-911?
Your phone company should treat a text message to 911 like any other text message you send. Therefore, normal text messages rates should apply. Check with your carrier if you need more information.
Can I text to 911 in languages other than English?
- The preferred language for texting to 911 is English.
- Translation services are limited.
Below are a few things to know if you need to text 911:
- Text location information is not equal to current location technology.
- As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received.
- Text-to-911 is not available if you are roaming.
- A text or data plan is required to place a text-to-911
- If texting to 911 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting to 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means.
- Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at this time.
- Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.