Close up photo of a man’s hands texting on a smart phone

Text-to-911

Although significant efforts are underway, most people across the nation cannot reach 911 by sending a text from a wireless phone today.

In May 2014, the four largest wireless service providers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon), in conjunction with the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), agreed to provide all 911 call centers with the ability to receive texts. However, significant technology upgrades may be necessary within the 911 call centers, and the timing of text-to-911 implementation will vary across the nation.

If a text is sent to 911 in an area where texts are not accepted by the local 911 call center, a bounce-back message should be delivered, alerting the text originator that 911 has not received the message and instructing them to call 911.

The Federal Communication Commission currently tracks the number and location of public safety answering points (PSAP) or call centers offering text-to-911 and will continue to update the list as communities across the nation begin offering this service.