9-1-1 Public Awareness and Education

Text to 9-1-1

Call if You Can, Text if You Can't

Text to 9-1-1 service is now available in the Gulf Coast 9-1-1 eight county region.

All four major cell phone companies, AT&T, Sprint,T-Mobile and Verizon, offer this service to their wireless customers.

Text to 911 should only be used in an emergency and in circumstances when you cannot safely call 9-1-1.

9-1-1 and You

  • Before you place the call, get out of harm's way. If there is a fire, for example, move to a safe place before you call. If there is an automobile accident and you are able, move to the side of the road. Stay calm. Speak clearly.
  • Provide the address, intersection or landmark where the emergency is taking place.
  • Verify the telephone number from which you are calling, just in case you get disconnected.
  • Explain the nature of the call. You might say, "I need a police officer,” “I’d like to report a fire,” or “I need an ambulance or emergency medical help.”
  • Stay on the line to answer all of the operator's questions, unless this jeopardizes your safety.
  • When the call is complete, hang up unless the dispatcher requests otherwise.
  • Keep your phone in a place that is readily accessible.
  • Calling 9-1-1 may be different from your landline and your cell phone. Know how to call 9-1-1 from each type of phone you use.
  • Do not program 9-1-1 into your phone as it may be dialed unintentionally.
  • Teach children and grandchildren in the home how and when to use 9-1-1.
  • Post your address and phone number on the refrigerator and in other visible places around your home for others who may need the information in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure that your address is easily visible from the street.

When a 9-1-1 call comes in from a hardwired landline telephone or even a portable landline phone, the call taker automatically receives information associated with that phone account including the name in which the phone is registered and the address from which the call is being made. This information helps the call taker to dispatch the appropriate emergency responders.

The majority of 9-1-1 calls, however, come from wireless phones. Wireless calls in the Gulf Coast region make up approximately 91% of the total call volume to 9-1-1. These calls present a challenge to 9-1-1 call takers as wireless phones do not automatically provide caller location information.

If the caller is unable to provide specific location information, the call taker may use one of two systems to help pinpoint the caller’s location. The call taker may be able to identify the cell phone tower from which the call is being made, thus narrowing the location to an area that may include several square miles. He or she will then ask the caller specific questions to try and narrow the location even more. Remember to push the SEND or CALL button after you dial 9-1-1.

Frequently 9-1-1 callers speak languages other than English. The GCRECD provides each PSAP access to language translation services. The translation vendor can identify and communicate with the 9-1-1 caller in almost any language, and thousands of dialects, enabling the PSAP to summon the needed resources quickly.

The GCRECD 9-1-1 equipment contains integrated TDD/TTY equipment to allow call takers to communicate with callers who are deaf, hearing impaired, or who cannot speak.

Kari’s Law (Senate Bill 788) was signed on May 15, 2015. The Commission on State Emergency Communications adopted Rule 251.16 (Direct Access to 9-1-1 Service) to implement Kari’s Law.

This rule requires direct access to 9-1-1 service without the user having to first dial an initial number, digit prefix, or other access code before dialing 9-1-1.

Compliance with Kari’s Law is required by September 1, 2016.

For more information, please visit the Texas 9-1-1 Website.

Educational Materials

Cell Phone Sally was developed to help Texans, especially children, become more cell-phone savvy. This fun and colorful character is featured on posters and in videos which teach kids about calling 9-1-1 from wireless and other phones.

As the number of wireless users has increased, so has the number of unintentional cell phone calls to 9-1-1. Cell Phone Sally helps convey the importance of leaving cell phones in the “locked” or “key guard” position when on, but not in use. This keeps phones from accidentally dialing 9-1-1 and allows other 9-1-1 emergency calls to be handled appropriately.

Cell Phone Sally

Next Generation 9-1-1

Until just a few years ago, there was only one way to dial 9-1-1: from a landline phone. Ever- evolving technologies with wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices provide users with many options for phone service. However, each of these new technologies brings new challenges to the 9-1-1 system.

The GCRECD will continually evaluate and improve our technologies and our training methods to stay up-to-date with 9-1-1 advancements. Consumers, too, must understand how their own communication devices interact with 9-1-1 in different situations. Talk to your service provider for more information.

VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is technology allows telephone calls to be made over the Internet. The voice data is sent over the Internet instead of analog telephone lines using the Internet Protocol (IP).

  • To register with your service provider for your resident or business using your physical address and not mailing address such as rural routes or PO Box. If not, your 9-1-1 call may not be answered at the correct 9-1-1 call center and the first responders cannot be dispatched to a mailing address when you are calling 9-1-1 from that phone.
  • If you are not sure what your physical address is, contact your local city or county addressing office to make sure your physical address is correct.
  • If your power goes out or your internet service is down, your phone service may be out also. Consider purchasing a backup power supply.
  • When calling 9-1-1, give your location, and call back number. Your information and location is not always received from this type of phone. Call back if you get disconnected.
  • If you travel with your VoIP adapter, be sure to update your registered location with your service provider. If not, your call may not reach the correct 9-1-1 center. The time it takes to process the update can vary considerably. Therefore, when traveling, if you need 9-1-1 service, use another phone to call 9-1-1.
  • Verify that you can access 9-1-1 with your phone. Check your service provider's Web site for emergency calling features. Be sure to keep your registered location current with your VoIP provider.
  • Post your address and call back phone number near your phone.
  • It is a good idea to know what police, fire or sheriff's department is responsible for your 9-1-1 call and have their phone number on hand to provide to the call taker.
  • Inform family members, children, babysitters, and visitors about your VoIP service.