The four major cellular providers, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all implemented text-to-911 services. Now it’s up to individual emergency call centers to accept the messages.

The implementation only means that the top four carriers have agreed to route 911 texts to public safety answering points, according to Top Tech News. Until these answering points purchase and install specialized equipment to handle texts, those sending them will receive a message back saying their text did not go through, and they must make a voice call.

The select markets offering text-to-911 have seen mixed results. One example is Greenville County, S.C., which rolled out text services late last year, according to local ABC affiliate News 13.

Of the five texts the county dispatch has received, three have been “non emergency use[s] of the system,” David Deitz, of Greenville County Dispatch told the TV station, adding that some have even been abuses.

But one text may have validated the service’s importance, according to News 13.

“One was a female who was inside her residence with her husband, and he had been drinking, and she wanted to go to a shelter to get out of that type of environment," Jan Kiser, another Greenville Dispatcher told the TV station. The female texter mentioned being scared and locking herself and her children in a different room for protection.

This is the type of situation 911 centers across the country are hoping to help with text services, according to News 13.

"In a situation where they're actually afraid to pick up the phone and make a 911 call, instead of picking up the phone they can actually text and get the information to us that way," says Deitz. "Anytime we can prevent anyone from being hurt, it's a success story. It truly is," says Kiser.

In the future, text-to-911 will be widely available in the United States, according to the FCC, but for now, the ability to contact 911 services using text messaging is available on a limited basis in only a few markets. At this point, the commission does not recommend relying on text to reach 911.

Read more from the FCC on text-to-911 services here.


To get connected and stay up-to-date with similar content from American City & County:
Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
Watch us on Youtube