Los Angeles County, including the City of Santa Monica, has launched “Text-to-911” service as of December 1, 2017. “Text-to-9-1-1” refers to the public’s ability to send text messages to local 9-1-1 call centers during an emergency. If you are in an emergency where you are unable to call 9-1-1 or communicate verbally, you are now able to text message police, fire, and emergency medical dispatchers by sending the text directly to 911. Dispatchers will ask you questions about the emergency by replying to your text. This service can be very useful to those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired and those who need help when an emergency is in progress and the caller is fearful of speaking or cannot speak. The public should be encouraged to call 911 if you can and text only if you’re unable to call.
“Starting Friday, December 1st, Santa Monica’s Public Safety Dispatchers are ready to accept 911 text messages. We hope that this added feature in all LA County 9-1-1 call centers better enables the public to report emergencies, especially in situations when someone is fearful of making a call or is unable to speak,” said Lindsay Barker, Chief Resilience Officer.
There are things to remember regarding text to 9-1-1, including:
- Remember… Call if you can. Text if you can’t.
- To send a text to 9-1-1, enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field.
- Send the location of the emergency and the type of help needed (Police, Fire, or Medical) in the first text message.
- Text in simple words. Do not use abbreviations.
- Follow the instructions of the dispatcher. Be prepared to answer dispatchers’ questions.
- Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.
- Please do not test the system in a non-emergency. Keep the system open to receive information about emergency events in your community.
- Never text and drive.