Text-to-911 is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – you are able to send a text message to our local 9-1-1 dispatchers from your mobile phone or device! This is a new capability that is slowly rolling out across the country – not a lot of places have Text-to-911! But we do! Phone calls are still the preferred method of communication regardless of a 9-1-1 call center’s capability though, so call if you can, text if you can’t!
If phone calls are still preferred, who should be using the new Text-to-Phone capability?
-Anyone in an emergency situation where speaking could be dangerous, such as a home invasion, burglary, or domestic violence incident.
–People who are hard of hearing or deaf or someone who has been in some sort of incident that has temporarily effected their hearing, such as an explosion.
-People who have a speech impairment.
Text-to-911 is about giving people another option to contact 9-1-1 safely and efficiently. Seconds count in an emergency!
Some tips to remember while using Text-To-911:
-Only use Text-To-911 in an emergency.
-Check your phone for bounce back texts! If you are in an area that does not support Text-to-911, you will receive a text back within seconds letting your know that emergency services have not been contacted and you need to make contact in another way. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made it requirement for all text message providers to send out these texts so that you do not wait for help that is not coming.
-If you are in a dangerous situation, such as a burglary or domestic violence incident, please make sure you silence your phone so that the person you are hiding the 9-1-1 contact from does not hear your phone. Dispatch call takers will be texting you back!
-You will need to be within the range of a cell tower! Different wireless carriers also might have different requirements in order to use Text-to-911, such as having a wireless data plan. All wireless carriers, including Verizon, require you to have a text-capable wireless phone and a wireless service subscription or contract. 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones will still not require a wireless contract to work so if you do not have a contract, call instead of text!
-Just like when you call in, stay on the phone with the dispatcher until they end the call if it is safe to do so. With Text-To-911 this means keeping your text messages open on your phone as if you and a friend were texting back and forth without long pauses between responses.
-Emergency text messages currently have a 160 character limit per text.
-You will need to provide your location. Unfortunately Enhanced 911 or E911 is not always available with texting so unlike calling in, dispatchers might not be able to see your location when you text.
-Provide a description of the emergency so dispatchers will know if they need to send medics, fire, and/or police.
-Keep the texts simple but avoid using abbreviations, internet slang/acronyms (such as LOL), and emojis.
-Currently, 9-1-1 dispatch centers are only able to receive text messages! They cannot receive any sort of media so do not send photos, videos, audio recordings, etc.
Text-To-911 will be available to the following local fire and ambulance service agencies:
Falls City Fire Department
SW Polk County Rural Fire District
Dallas Fire & EMS
Polk County Fire District No.1
Salem Fire Department
Spring Valley RFPD
Polk County law enforcement agencies which also have the service available include:
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Oregon
Dallas Oregon Police Department
Independence Police Department
Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department
Salem Police Department
The Text-To-911 service is made possible through the wireless providers and a third party application which directs the text message to WVCC. Thank you to everyone who put in the work to bring this to our area!
For Spanish, check out this video!