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.