Earlier this year it was released that you can now text 9-1-1 in cases of emergencies. It seems simple, basically your text message will take place of a phone call. It’s important to note that ability to contact 911 using text is only available on a limited basis in a few markets. Right now, you should not rely on text to reach 911.
The following information is taken directly from the FCC website. This stuff is way too important to paraphrase.
How to Contact 911
IMPORTANT! If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:
- Always contact 911 by making a voice call, if you can.
- If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.
- Remember – in most cases now, you cannot reach 911 by sending a text message.
The FCC has rules to help keep consumers safe during the transition to text-to-911. These rules are intended to minimize the risk if consumers attempt to send text messages to 911 where the service is not available. Specifically, beginning September 30, 2013, all wireless telephone companies and certain other text messaging providers are required by the FCC to send an automatic “bounce-back” message to any consumer who tries to send a text message to 911 where this service is not yet available.
- Consumers who receive this “bounce-back” message will be advised to contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using a telecommunications relay service (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability).
- The nation’s four largest wireless telephone companies – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon – have agreed to voluntarily begin sending these “bounce back” text messages across their networks as of June 30, 2013, a few months earlier than the September 2013 deadline established by the FCC’s rules.
When Will Text-to-911 Become Widely Available?
- In a Policy Statement adopted January 30, 2014, the Commission expressed its belief that every wireless carrier and every provider that enables a consumer to send text messages to telephone numbers should support text-to-911 capabilities.
- In an agreement with NENA and APCO, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have voluntarily committed to provide text-to-911 service by May 15, 2014 in all areas served by their networks where a 911 call center is prepared to receive texts.
- The Commission encourages wireless providers and interconnected text providers that are not parties to the Carrier-NENA-APCO Agreement to work with the public safety community to develop similar commitments to support text-to-911 in a timely manner, so that all consumers will be assured access to text-to-911 regardless of what text provider they choose. The Commission has also proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014.
- The Commission has encouraged 911 call centers to begin accepting texts as text providers develop text-to-911 capability. It is up to each 911 call center to decide whether and when to begin accepting texts. Some call centers have started to accept text messages already. We expect that others will do so and that text-to-911 will become available in more areas over time.
- Nevertheless, even where text-to-911 is available, consumers should continue to contact 911 by making a voice call if they can, and use text only if voice is not a feasible or safe option.
I am excited about the possibility to text 9-1-1. It’s a smart move for them to make and to get this on lock down. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the future with emergency situations. But for now, can you believe we now have the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from our mobile phone?