What is Text-to-911?
Text-to-911 enables you to send a text message from your cellphone to a 911 Dispatch Center to get emergency help. It may be useful in situations where it’s dangerous or impossible to place a voice call (e.g., after a medical emergency renders an individual unable to speak, during a home invasion or abduction, during domestic violence situations, etc.) and also for those individuals who are hearing or speech impaired.
However, calling 911 is the most efficient (and preferred) way to reach a 911 operator because there are limitations. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, you have the ability to use TTY on your cell phone by enabling the TTY setting.
For Text-to-911 to work, you must have a active wireless plan, have a text messaging plan, and your wireless carrier must provide Text-to-911 service.
When Should Text-to-911 be Used?
- The reporting party cannot speak while a crime is in progress.
- The reporting party must remain quiet to stay safe.
- If speaking may cause harm, such as in a home invasion, domestic violence or human trafficking situation.
- If the reporting party encounters a suicidal or agitated person.
- If peer pressure is strong.
- If the reporting party is deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing or has a speech impairment.
How to Text 911
- Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field.
- Text message should include your location and type of emergency.
- Send the message.
- Be ready to answer questions and follow instructions.
- Use simple words.
- Do not use abbreviations, emojis, pictures or slang. (BRB, IDK, THX, 2day and BTW, for example)
- Do not text and drive.
It is a crime to text 911 with a false report. If you accidentally send a text to 911, send another text or place a call to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency.
What Dispatchers Need to Know
- Dispatchers prefer to speak with reporting parties whenever possible.
- Upon receiving a text, dispatchers will ask if they can call the reporting party.
- People who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment should inform the dispatcher right away.
- Be ready to give the dispatcher your location.
- Be ready to describe the type of emergency.
Did You Know? Challenges and Limitations
911 dispatchers will process texts with the same priority as voice calls. However, public safety response time may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text message to be typed and transmitted between a dispatcher and a reporting party. There is no guarantee on the speed of delivery for texts to 911.
- Location is not as accurate with text as it can be with a call.
- If customers are outside of Minnesota or along a neighboring border, texts to 911 may not be received by a dispatcher.
- Texts to 911 will get a bounce back if a customer is roaming.
- Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
- Usual charges will apply to texts made to 911.
- Texts to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
- Texts to 911 can get out of order or may not be received at all.
- There is currently no language translation service for texts to 911.