News : Have an Emergency and Can’t Call 911? Send a Text Instead
Currituck County, NC, USA, Aug 14, 2016 -- Need to contact 911 but can’t safely make a phone call?
Currituck, Dare, Pasquotank and Camden counties have joined a growing list of North Carolina counties that can accept text messages to their 911 emergency systems.
Liz Hodgis, supervisor of Currituck County’s Communications department, said a voice call to 911 is the best option, but if you’re in a situation where you can’t call, such as a home invasion or a domestic dispute, you can now send a to 911.
"The whole emphasis behind this is, ‘call if you can; text if you can’t,’ " Hodgis said. Like other counties where the service is available, Currituck’s 911 call center is able to receive text messages from Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, if the caller has a data plan.
To text 911 in an emergency, enter 911 in the "to" field on your cellular phone from your messaging app. Keep the first text message brief — limit it to the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
After pushing the "send" button, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher. Respond in simple words, and keep your messages brief and concise.
Text-to-911 services are available in the North Carolina counties colored green. (NC911 Board)
Because of ADA requirements, the response from the 911 operator may include terminology used when communicating with hearing impaired callers, such as: "Currituck 9-1-1, where is your emergency GA."
GA stands for go ahead, letting callers know they can communicate with the dispatcher. SK, or stop keying, is typically used to end a conversation. Questions may be marked with a Q to indicate a question is being asked, such as "what is your phone number Q GA."
Here are a few other things to know if you need to text 9-1-1:
• Text location information is not equal to current location technology. Don’t depend on your phone to tell the dispatcher where you are.
• As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received.
• Text-to-911 is not available if you are roaming.
• A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
• If texting to 911 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means.
• Photos and videos sent to 911 may or may not go through, depending on the carrier’s technology.
• Text-to-911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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