Text-to-911

Vermont leads the nation in providing state-wide coverage of Text-to-911!

As of May 2014, customers of the four nationwide wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, can send a text message to 911 from locations in Vermont for emergency help. Thanks to these providers, 98% of wireless users in the state now have an alternative method to use in an emergency in the event that they cannot make a phone call.

Guidelines

  • Customers should use the texting option only when a voice call to 911 is not an option. Making a voice call is still the most efficient way to get access to emergency services.
  • As with any communication to 911, the texting function should only be used for emergency situations.
    • Emergency situations require a response from:
      • Police
      • Fire Department
      • Emergency medical services
  • It is very important to provide the location of the event and the nature of the emergency in the first message.
    • The call taker will not be able to determine the cell phone location.
    • The call taker will need to convey the information from the texter to local first responders as quickly as possible.
  • Abbreviations and slang, (IDK, THX, 2day, BTW, for example), should never be used.
  • If you accidentally send a text to 911, be sure to follow it up with another text or voice call to let the call-taker know it was an accident and that there is no emergency.
  • Texts to 911 have the same 160 character limit as other text messages.
  • Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
    • Usual charges will apply to texts made to 911.

Limitations

  • Text messaging is considered a “best efforts” service and there is no guarantee a text message will be sent, delivered or received in a timely manner, if at all.
  • Sending a text to 911 may take longer than a voice call because someone must enter the text, send it through the system and then the 911 call taker has to enter a text response and send it back.
    • Time is critical in a life-threatening emergency, and customers should be aware of this difference.
  • Customers must be in range of their service provider's cell towers in Vermont.
    • If customers are outside or near the edge of the state when sending a text to 911, the message may not reach the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
    • If the text didn't go through, you should receive a bounce-back message that states:  Please make a voice call to 911.  There is no text service to 911 available at this time.

Questions about Text-to-911?  Contact us by E-Mail or by telephone at (802) 828-4119.