For many of us, texting has become second nature — and the Denco Area 9-1-1 District has worked diligently to upgrade the 9-1-1 system in this area to accommodate this level of access. By taking time now to learn about the capabilities and limitations of text-to-911 service, you can save valuable time in an emergency.
It’s important to remember that texting 911 is an alternative way to request help if you are unable to speak or hear. Even with recent technology enhancements, making a voice call remains the best way to request help.
The ability to text to 911 is not universal. Only select 9-1-1 call centers are equipped to accept texts, such as those in Denton County. If you are traveling to other parts of the region, state or country, you may or may not be able to text to 911.
Under the right conditions, texting can be an invaluable tool to request emergency assistance services. Examples include deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired callers who are not able to make a voice 9-1-1 call and anyone reporting a crime in progress when speaking could put you at additional risk. A common use for texting to 911 is a domestic abuse victim who needs help but cannot safely make a voice call.
Although the 9-1-1 system in this area is very advanced, there are limitations in the text-to-911 system and we encourage you not to wait for an emergency to learn about the limitations of 9-1-1 texting! If you ever need to text 9-1-1 during a crisis, it is important to understand that a text or data plan is required on the wireless phone you use.
The 9-1-1 center will receive general location information when you text to 911 but the location may not be precise. It is best to provide your exact location in the initial text message. Also, as with any text, the message may be delayed and/or delivered out of order. 9-1-1 texts cannot include other recipients; do not send your emergency text via group message or to anyone other than 911. Currently 9-1-1 centers are not equipped to receive photos or videos.
If you need help and are unable to speak or hear, or it is not safe to make a voice call, follow these guidelines:
- Enter “911” in the “To” field.
- Type your exact location and the type of help you need.
- Hit “Send.”
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions.
- Keep messages brief, but do not use abbreviations, as they may be misinterpreted.
- If text-to-9-1-1 service is not available, you’ll receive an automated reply to let you know that your message was not received.
- Do not text and drive, even in an emergency.
Many of the tips for a successful text-to-911 are the same as for a voice call to 9-1-1.
- When you are in a situation where you need to contact 9-1-1, please attempt to get to a safe location before calling or texting. If you are reporting a fire, exit the burning structure first.
- Try to stay calm; speak clearly if calling, and use simple words and phrases, especially if texting.
- The emergency personnel answering your call will ask questions to determine specifically what help you need such as police, fire and/or EMS/ambulance.
- When connecting with 9-1-1, the personnel will ask you to verify where help is needed. It is important to provide an exact address, if possible. If you do not know the address provide as much information about the location as you can, including cross streets or landmarks.
- In an emergency, you may be uncharacteristically emotional and seconds may seem like minutes. Please be sure to answer all questions asked by the 9-1-1 representative and remain available until told it’s okay to hang up.
Regardless of whether you text or call, contact emergency assistance via 9-1-1 anytime you encounter a life-threatening situation, or an event in which emergency police, fire or medical help is needed right away.