Text to 9-1-1 service officially rolls out in Washoe County
Call if you can, text if you can’t.
Regional dispatch partners from the City of Reno, City of Sparks and Washoe County are proud to announce that each of the three Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) will begin formally accepting text messages to 9-1-1 starting in September, which is also National Preparedness Month.
PSAP officials stress that during an emergency, people should call if you can, text if you can’t. However, the benefits of Text to 9-1-1 can include quicker accessibility for citizens who are hard-of-hearing, deaf or speech-impaired. While Text to 9-1-1 is primarily for those with limited verbal communication, it can also help in situations when a crime is in progress or the caller is injured and cannot speak.
While the service offers a new level of communication, emergency operations professionals warn the public of safety concerns and other challenges that come with evolving technology:
- Location information is not transmitted to the call-takers when a text message is sent. Therefore, it is imperative the user begins their text message with a precise location and description of the emergency.
- Avoid the use of acronyms and emoticons (emojis) when texting to 9-1-1. Keep messages brief and concise, without abbreviations or non-standard language.
- Text to 9-1-1 messages sent with additional recipients will not go through.
- The Text to 9-1-1 system is not capable of receiving multimedia (photo or video) texts.
- If a Text to 9-1-1 is not available or temporarily out of service, a bounce back message will be sent to the user advising them to make a voice call to 9-1-1.
- Users must have a text or data plan to use the services and, as with all text messages, messages sent to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive or may not be received at all.
- Do not text and drive.
While this new technology is advantageous in certain emergency situations, PSAPs encourage citizens to text only when you are unable to make a voice call to 9-1-1. Voice calls to 9-1-1 are still the best and fastest way to get help during an emergency.
Currently, many PSAPs in the U.S. cannot accept 9-1-1 text messages. After testing the technology to ensure that it’s streamlined and ready to roll out to the public, Reno, Sparks and Washoe County communications centers are now accepting Text to 9-1-1 in the Truckee Meadows region.
For more information on 9-1-1 education, visit ThinkBeforeYouDial.com.