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It is the ability to send a "short message" (SMS) or other kind of text message to 911. Texting during an emergency could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or if a voice call to 911 might otherwise be dangerous or impossible. But if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911.
The dispatch center will not automatically know your location. For this reason, if you send a text message to 911, it is important to give the 911 call taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible, if you can. Texting to 911 is different from making a voice call to 911 in this respect. When you make a voice call to 911, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and your approximate location automatically. This is called "Enhanced 911" or "E911." However, in most cases when you text 911 from a wireless phone, the call center will not receive an accurate location.
Voice calls to 911 are usually the most efficient way to reach emergency help. For example, voice calls allow the 911 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and is subject to limits on the length of text messages. In addition, when you make a voice call to 911, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and the approximate location of your phone automatically.
The Dispatcher will respond with the same script that voice callers hear. Example: "Campbell 9-1-1, what is the address of your emergency?" If Text to 9-1-1 is not available, you should receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that Text to 9-1-1 is not available and you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.
Standard text messaging rates apply.
Currently, Text to 9-1-1 is only available in English.