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Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device. However, because voice calls to 911 provide more information to 911 call centers, you should always make a voice call to 911 during an emergency, whenever possible. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require all wireless carriers and other providers to text messaging applications in the United States to deliver emergency texts to call centers that request them.  If a call center requests text-to-911 service, text messaging providers must deliver the service within six months. 

In the event of an emergency, if you can voice call 911, you should. By calling, dispatchers can gather more information, listen for distress in a caller’s voice, and gather background information – all important information for first responders when going to an emergency. In addition, texting may be subject to cell signal availability. Text-to-911 should only be used for the following:

  • If you need help, but cannot safely speak on the phone or are unable to speak. (Examples include:  abduction, domestic violence or active shooter situation.)
  • If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled, and there is no TTY available.
When you Text-to-911, it is most important to provide your location first. Then, explain the emergency and be prepared to answer questions, if possible. Please do not send photos or videos to 911. Do not copy others on the message to 911. Text to 911 cannot include more than one person. Enter 911 in the "to" field and then write your message and push send. The Department wants to re-emphasize that if you can call vs. text 911, that you do so. Also, if it is not an emergency, but you need to get in touch with the Department that you call the non-emergency number at (757) 247-2500.