9-1-1 now accepts text messages

Wright: ‘Voice call will always have a quicker response’

* Frequently asked questions

The Richmond County emergency dispatch center now has the ability to receive text to 9-1-1 messages through the four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. A text or data plan is required in order to text 9-1-1 with these major carriers.

e911“If anyone has a question of whether to call or text 9-1-1, always remember to call if you can, text if you can’t,” said Donna Wright, director of Richmond County Emergency Services. “A voice call will always have a quicker response. Emergency texts to 9-1-1 do not receive priority of any kind on the wireless network and are treated as any other text messages; therefore texts to 9-1-1 are subject to the same speeds or delays, depending on the network strength.”

Text messaging is one of the primary methods people communicate today, especially with younger generations and members of the hearing and speech disabilities community. Texts to 9-1-1 will be very useful to the approximately 34 million Americans who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Texts to 9-1-1 could also aid in situations when a crime is in progress, the caller is facing domestic abuse, is injured and can’t speak, and other situations.

The FCC mandated other wireless carriers to provide text to 9-1-1 capability by Dec. 31, 2014. This means that Richmond County 9-1-1 can request the service from other wireless carriers beginning Jan. 1. “It is exciting that Richmond County 9-1-1 continues to move forward with technology and continues to focus on service to our residents,” Wright said.

Residents are encouraged to not “test” this service by texting 9-1-1 unnecessarily. Texts to 9-1-1 requires the call taker to stay on that line, thus not allowing the call taker to answer other lines that could be life threatening emergencies. All texts to 9-1-1 are subject to North Carolina public records laws just as calls are.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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