Text-to-911 could be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability. It could also be beneficial in those rare situations where making a voice call to 911 might otherwise be dangerous or impossible.
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. 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. This is not the case with text-to-911.
Testing has shown that location information is very unreliable. If you text the 911 Center, you will need to provide an accurate location to the call taker. In general, you must have a text-capable wireless phone and a wireless service subscription or contract with a wireless phone company to use the service. You can make a voice call to 911 using a wireless phone that does not have a service plan, but you cannot send a text message to 911 without a service contract that includes texting.
Not all cellphone providers support text-to-911 and it is not available in some 911 centers in our region. If you attempt to text 911 and it’s not supported, you will receive a message advising you that you must make a voice call to 911.
Officials say if you are able to safely make a voice call, that is always the preferred method for contacting emergency personnel.