Mobile users in Los Angeles County now have the ability to send text messages to 911, giving hearing and speech impaired residents, or those in situations where it is too dangerous to dial 911, a potentially life-saving option.
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) urges the public, “To call if they can — text if they can’t.”
“Text-to-911 is an exciting technological step forward for the LAFD and the people of Los Angeles,” said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas. “It provides the public with a new way to activate the 911 system if making a voice call is not an option and it provides a valuable service to deaf and hearing impaired individuals.”
Officials from the LAFD, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced the debut of the Text-to-911 service at a press conference on Friday in Long Beach.
“This technology can save lives and meets the needs of a growing population that relies on text messaging as a key form of communication,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of Cal OES.
The LAFD began accepting 911 texts in early October to allow our dispatch personnel to become familiar with the system. Since then, the LAFD has received two Text-to-911 messages, both resulting in positive outcomes. One call involved a domestic violence assault in progress and the second was a medical emergency at a bus stop that was observed by a hearing impaired individual who texted 911 for assistance.
Most Los Angeles County dispatch centers are now equipped to receive and respond to mobile phone Text-to-911 messages. Below are Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for how to contact 911 via text in an emergency:
• If you can, always contact 911 by making a voice call, “Call if you can…text if you can’t.”
• If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text-to-911 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
• If you text 911 and text is not available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message advising “text is not available please make a voice call to 911.”
• Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon. Be prepared to give your location.
• Text-to-911 service will not be available if the wireless carrier cannot ascertain a location of the device sending the message.
• Text-to-911 is not available if you are roaming.
• A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
• Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911. They cannot be received at the 911 call center at this time.
• Text message should be sent in plain language and not contain popular abbreviations (SMH, LOL, ICYMI) or emojis, which will not be recognized.
• Text-to-911 cannot be sent to more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.
• Text must be in English. There is currently no language interpretation for text available. It remains in development.
For more information on Text-to-911, please visit www.caloes.ca.gov