Kitsap 911 (CENCOM) announced March 31 that it has begun accepting text-to-911 service. Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint customers in Kitsap County can now send a text message to 911 in an emergency.
Text to 911 is a new and critical service. It is intended to benefit people that may not be able to speak due to an emergency such as a home invasion, or abusive partner, as well as individuals that are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities.
“I’m proud that Kitsap 911 is the first 911 center in the state to accept text messages,” said Director Richard Kirton. “Text-to-911 is an important tool that will save lives, but placing a voice call is still the most efficient way to reach help. Beginning today, if you have an emergency in Kitsap County, call if you can, text if you can’t.”
Text-to-911 service is not yet available statewide.
If a text is sent from a wireless carrier that does not support text-to-911 or if a text is sent from a city or county that does not support text-to-911, the phone user should receive a message saying that there is no text service to 911 available at this time.
A few things about how text-to-911 works at present:
• A text plan with a participating carrier is required to place a text-to-911.
• Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at this time.
• A group text will cause a message to 911 to not go through. Do not send an emergency text to anyone other than 911.
• Text-to-911 is not available when roaming.
• Interpreters are not available for text at this time; text in English only.
• As with all text messages, messages to or from 911 may have a delay, may go through out of order, or may not be received at all.
• When texting to 911 for an emergency, the first message should be the location of the emergency (including city) and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical).
• Keep text messages brief and concise; use full words.
• Stay with the phone and be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher.
• Be aware of auto correct especially when providing a location.
• If using text-to-911 in order to not be heard, don’t forget to silence the cell phone ringer or alert sounds.