Text-To-911 Goes Live, But Not Everyone Gets Message

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all implemented Text-To-911 but now it is up to individual emergency call centers to accept the messages. Calling is still the preferred method of communication in an emergency but in some situations, texting is both easier and safer, which is why public safety answering points (PSAP) are beginning to accept text messages.

At this point, the implementation of Text-To-911 only means that the four carriers have agreed to route 911 texts to PSAPs. Until the call centers purchase and install special equipment to handle text messages, they will only accept calls. In those situations, people texting 911 will receive messages informing them that their messages did not go through and that they must make a voice call.

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Voice calling is almost always preferable to Text-To-911, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which runs the program. Even if someone is hearing impaired, the FCC said that TTY (teletypewriter) is a better and more reliable alternative to texting. This means that texting should be reserved for when someone is unable to talk, such as in a medical emergency or when there is a burglar in the caller's house.

In addition to being the preferred method of communication with PSAPs, there are other benefits that come along with voice communication. 911 Emergency Dispatchers aren't available just to route and answer calls; they are also trained to deal with people in stressful situations by calming them down. Unfortunately, they are not able to respond emotionally and calm someone down via a text message.

There are also some practical issues with texting that are not found in voice communication. It may take longer for texts to be sent and subsequently received than for a voice call to placed. Additionally, longer text conversations are necessary just to provide enough...

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