- Customers should use the texting option only when a voice call to 911 is not an option. Making a voice call is still the most efficient way to get access to emergency services.
- As with any communication to 911, the texting function should only be used for emergency situations.
- Emergency situations require a response from:
- Fire Department
- Emergency Medical Services
- It is very important to provide the location of the event and the nature of the emergency in the first message.
- The call-taker may not be able to determine the cell phone location.
- The call-taker will need to convey the information from the texter to local first responders as quickly as possible.
- Abbreviations and slang (IDK, THX, 2day, BTW, for example) should be avoided whenever possible.
- If you accidentally send a text message to 911, be sure to follow it up with another text to let the call-taker know it was an accident and that there is no emergency.
- Texts to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
- Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
- Text messaging is considered a “best effort” service, and there is no guarantee a text message will be sent, delivered, or received in a timely manner, if at all.
- Sending a text to 911 may take longer than a voice call because someone must enter the text and send it through the system, and then the 911 call-taker must enter a text response and send it back.
- Time is critical in every emergency, and customers should be aware of this difference.
- Customers must be in the range of their service provider’s cell towers in Vermont.
- If customers are outside or near the edge of the state when sending a text to 911, the message may not reach a Vermont Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
- If the text didn’t go through, you should receive a bounce-back message that states: Please make a voice call to 911. There is no text service to 911 available at this time.
For more information on Text to 911, check the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or the National Association of the Deaf links.