The California Highway Patrol’s Golden Gate Division and the cities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara will now offer the option to text 911 to report emergencies to those who are not able to call in a dangerous situation.
The ability to text 911 is specifically meant for those who would be put in further harm by calling, as well as those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability. These are extenuating circumstances and a text will not replace the phone call to 911 for most people, authorities said.
Dialing 911 is still the preferred way to request help in life-threatening conditions, so authorities are stressing the motto, “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”
When texting 911, people are advised to include the location of the emergency, text in simple words without abbreviation, keep the texts brief and concise, should not be in a group text or while roaming, and should not be sent while the person is driving.
After the initial text is sent, persons involved should be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher.
They should stay on the line if it is safe to do so and silence their phone if they do not want to be heard.
Text to 911 only works for agencies that provide the service and may take longer than a voice call because someone must enter the text, send it through the system, the dispatcher must enter a response and send it back.
Those who do not reside in Sunnyvale or Santa Clara are advised to check with their local authorities about whether text to 911 is available in their city.
More information about text to 911 services is offered in a Federal Communications Commission document that can be accessed at http://s3.amazonaws.com/nixle/uploads/pub_media/user33005-1515427057-media1.