Text-to-911: How The Humble Text Can Save Lives

Los Angeles County recently announced the ability for mobile users to text 911 in case of an emergency.  L.A. joins a slowly growing list of emergency call centers that have implemented an SMS text-to-911Text-to-911 service. According to the FCC,  only 10% of the country’s 6500 dispatchers are currently able to receive emergency texts to 911.

Adoption of text-to-911 has been slow, primarily due to the lack of funding by counties and states to implement the technology and equipment needed to accept and send texts, train dispatchers and educate the public on using text-to-911.

Benefits of Texting 911

Not only is text-to-911 beneficial for the hearing and speech impaired, but it also can save lives for those in emergency situations where they cannot call 911 or talk on the phone. In the city of Orlando, for example, victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre sent texts to friends and family asking them to call 911, but they could not text emergency dispatchers directly. Victims of domestic abuse  would be able to quietly and discreetly text instead of making a call.

Younger generations are also more comfortable with texting already, and actually prefer it to talking on the phone. College campuses across the U.S. for example, are already using mass text messaging services for emergency and safety alerts.

Transitioning to Next Generation 911

The ability to text 911 is an interim step for most emergency call centers towards Next Generation 911, which would allow for transmission of  text, images, video and data to a 911 center. About 75% of calls to 911 are made from wireless phones, making it critical for counties and states to upgrade to digital 911 networks.

Until these upgrades take place, counties like Los Angeles are utilizing the most commonly available texting technology, SMS. The text-to-911 system does not automatically provide information like phone number and approximate location to dispatchers, but its very existence can save lives.


Interested in learning more about ways your business or organization can send mass text alerts to your employees in an emergency? Contact 800-696-1393 for more information.




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