As part of a statewide initiative, text-to-9-1-1 service is now available throughout the ten-county metropolitan area wherever the caller has wireless telephone service. Text-to-9-1-1 is not recommended unless it is unsafe for the caller to make a voice call to 9-1-1, or if the caller is Deaf or hard of hearing. Whether someone calls or texts 9-1-1, the following questions must be answered:
- Where is the emergency?
- What is the nature of the emergency?
Call if you can, text if you can’t.
When should text-to-9-1-1 be used?
- The caller cannot speak while a crime is in progress.
- The caller 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 caller encounters a suicidal or agitated person where making a voice call could upset the person.
- If peer pressure is strong.
- If the caller is Deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, or has a speech impairment.
How to text 9-1-1
- Enter the numbers 9-1-1 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.
Text-to-9-1-1 challenges and limitations
- It takes more time to send a text message than it does to verbally tell the 9-1-1 telecommunicator the information needed, which delays the emergency response.
- Text-to-9-1-1 messages are not given priority by wireless carrier networks and are treated just like any other text message. There is no guarantee that a text-to-9-1-1 message will be delivered or how quickly it will be delivered.
- Location information is not as accurate with a text as it can be with a voice call.
- If customers are outside of Minnesota or along a neighboring state border, texts-to-9-1-1 may not be received by a 9-1-1 telecommunicator.
- Texts-to-9-1-1 will get a bounce-back message saying text service to 9-1-1 is not available if a caller is roaming on another carrier’s network.
- Wireless customers must have mobile phones that can send text messages.
- Usual charges will apply to texts made to 9-1-1.
- Texts-to-9-1-1 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
- Text-to-9-1-1 messages may get out of order before they are received by 9-1-1.
- There is currently no language translation service for text-to-9-1-1 messages.