KILGORE, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) — If you have an emergency you can now send a text message directly to 9-1-1 for help in the event you are unable to make a voice call.
The East Texas Council of Governments recently announced that the Text to 9-1-1 service is now available in Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Gregg, Marion, Panola, Rains, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood Counties.
ETCOG’s Director of Public Safety, Stephanie Heffner said, “To ensure the new service functions properly in our 9-1-1 district, our process was to drive the ETCOG region and test Text to 9-1-1 with the four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Once that process was completed, we conducted training with our 9-1-1 call centers. We are now making efforts to inform the public that Text to 9-1-1 is available for use.”
To use the new service, you can simply send a text as you would normally. In the recipient field enter 911, compose the message and push send.
Once a text is sent, the 9-1-1 system will send an automated message asking the individual texting for the address of the emergency. This starts the text session between 9-1-1 and the person needing emergency help.
It is important to remember that text to 9-1-1 services should only be used in an emergency situation when someone is unable to speak.
Examples include if the person is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the individual in danger. Text to 9-1-1 also provides a silent alternative in cases such as a child abduction, active shooter or domestic abuse.
When texting 9-1-1, you need to know your exact location and the nature of your emergency. Use simple language and no abbreviations or slang.
Please do not text and drive. Pull over to a safe location before sending a text to 9-1-1. If you are able, please call 9-1-1. It takes longer to get all the information when communicating through text messages.
Currently, you can only text 9-1-1 with the four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
If you are in an area where texting service is not available to 9-1-1, you will receive a ‘bounce back’ message telling you to make a voice call.