Call centers across Maryland are now accepting text messages via text-to-911 service.
The Maryland Association of Counties [MACO] announced customers of the three major wireless carriers (AT&T, former Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) who are enrolled in their carriers’ text messaging and/or data plan can send text messages to 9-1-1 in an emergency when they are unable to place a phone call.
Text-to-911 is intended for use in three scenarios:
* For individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have a speech disability
* For someone who is in a situation where it is unsafe to place a voice call to 911
* For an individual who is experiencing a medical emergency and may be unable to speak.
“We are thrilled to officially launch text-to-911 service here in Maryland,” said Kevin Kinnally, associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties. “While a phone call is still the preferred way to contact 9-1-1, the ability to send a text message to 9-1-1 gives residents and visitors — particularly those who may have difficulty placing a voice call — better access to emergency services.”
How to text 9-1-1
Residents in need of emergency services and are unable to place a phone call can enter 9-1-1 in the “To” line of a new text message and begin the message with the location of the emergency and the type of help needed — police, fire, or emergency medical services.
Once the message has been received at the 9-1-1 call center, a 9-1-1 specialist will respond. You should be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions.
Additional tips for using text-to-911 service:
As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive, could be received out of order, and/or may not be received at all.
If text-to-911 service is not available, you will receive a bounce-back message from your carrier telling you to place a phone or relay call instead
Photos and videos cannot be received by 9-1-1 call centers
English is the preferred language for text messaging, though some limited translation services may be available in your area
Keep text messages short and simple, and avoid using slang or abbreviations
Including an additional contact on your text message may prevent it from being received by 9-1-1
Call if you can, text if you can’t
Do not text and drive.