Text to 9-1-1 service is now available in the Gulf Coast 9-1-1 eight county region. This service is offered by all providers to mobile customers with a text or data plan.

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Call if You Can, Text if You Can't

Voice calls are still the best and fastest way to contact 9-1-1. Text to 911 should only be used in an emergency and in circumstances when you cannot safely call 911.

When it's Best to Call 9-1-1

  • To report a crime in progress.
  • To report a fire.
  • To save a life.
  • Anytime an emergency response is required by law enforcement, fire or emergency medical personnel.

When Texting 9-1-1 Might be Better Than Calling

  • If you have a hearing or speech disability.
  • If you are unable, for medical reasons, to speak into the phone.
  • If your safety would be compromised if you spoke out loud - for example, during a home invasion or abduction.
  • If your cell signal isn’t strong enough for a voice call to go through.

Things to Remember When Sending a Text to 9-1-1

  • Include your exact location and the nature of your emergency.
  • Use clear, simple language. Abbreviations and slang may create more confusion and delay response time.
  • Do not text and drive. Not only is this dangerous, but it is illegal in most states. Please pull over to a safe location and stop your car prior to sending a text to 9-1-1.
  • Do not copy other people on a text sent to 9-1-1.
  • Don't attach pictures or videos to a text message to 911.
  • If you are in an area where text to 9-1-1 service is not available, you will get a "bounce back" message telling you to make a voice call instead.
  • Silence the ringtone on your phone if the noise may compromise your safety. If you stop responding to text messages from the 9-1-1 center, the dispatcher may need to call to check on your safety.

When Not to Call or Text 9-1-1

  • When there is no emergency.
  • If an animal is hurt or lost (Call your city or county animal services instead).
  • As a joke or prank.
  • To report that electricity or other utilities are off.
  • To report traffic jams.
  • To ask about government services or general information.
  • Most importantly, remember to call if you can and text only when you can't call. Providing essential information to a 9-1-1 telecommunicator is much faster by voice than text because texting is not always instantaneous.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is text to 9-1-1 technology?

Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send a text message to 9-1-1 from a cell phone or handheld device.

Can I text to 9-1-1?

Mobile customers can text to 9-1-1. You must have a device with a data or text plan to send text messages.

What if I am outside of the Gulf Coast 9-1-1 Region?

If text to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you should receive a message indicating that text to 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by other means.

When should I text 9-1-1?

It is recommended to text 9-1-1 when it is not safe to place a voice 9-1-1 call, for an individual who is deaf or hard-of-hearing or for someone who is in a situation where they cannot talk, or during a medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech.

What are the challenges with text to 9-1-1 service?

The same texting issues that occur today may occur with text to 9-1-1. As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all. 9-1-1 call takers will not be able to hear any background noise that could help with assisting during the emergency.

Voice calls are real-time communication and text to 9-1-1 is not.

Voice calls will still be the fastest and best way to reach 9-1-1.

What information should I text to 9-1-1?

Text your exact location and what emergency help is needed, text in simple words - no abbreviations or slang, and keep text messages short.

How do I text to 9-1-1?
  1. Enter the numbers "911" in the "To" or "Recipient" field.
  2. The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include the address, and ask for police, fire or ambulance.
  3. Push the “Send” button.
  4. Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
How will I know if 9-1-1 received my text?

A 9-1-1 call center should respond to the text. If a text to 9-1-1 message does NOT go through, you should receive a bounce back message from the wireless carrier stating that text to 9-1-1 is not available. If you get a bounce-back text, you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.

Is there a charge when you text to 9-1-1?

Texting to 9-1-1 costs the same as the text charges you pay on all messages.

Can I send pictures or videos to 9-1-1?

Not at this time.

Can I send a text to another person the same time as 9-1-1?

No. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.

What language is text to 9-1-1 communication available?

Text messages should be sent in English only. The GCRECD has language interpretation for voice calls to 9-1-1.

Can I text to 9-1-1 if I don't have a data plan on my phone?

You have to have a either a data or text plan to text to 9-1-1.