Residents May Now Text to 9-1-1 for Emergencies

By On December 4, 2017

The Burbank Police Department has joined the new Text to 9-1-1 system in Los Angeles County.

Under the new system, mobile users in Los Angeles County now have the ability to send text messages to 9-1-1, giving hearing and speech-impaired residents, or those in situations where it is too dangerous to dial 9-1-1, a potentially lifesaving option.

“This technology is a welcomed advancement in our abilities to communicate with citizens in emergency situations, who otherwise would have been unable to call for help,” said Sergeant Derek Green, Public Information Officer for the Burbank Police Department.

The Burbank Police Department Communications Center, and most Los Angeles County dispatch centers are now equipped to receive and respond to mobile phone SMS Text to 9-1-1 messages. This service is available for use by the deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired, and in situations where it is too dangerous to make a voice call to 9-1-1.

“Call if you can – text if you can’t” is the slogan developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as the new technology makes its debut in the most populous county in the United States.

The Burbank Police Department would like to remind the public that although this new system is of great benefit to those who are hearing or speech-impaired, or those who are unable to call 9­1-1, it’s not meant to be a replacement for calling. Citizens who are able are asked to call 9-1-1 and speak directly with an operator.

Below are the FCC guidelines for how to contact 9-1-1. If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:

  • If you can, always contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call, “Call if you can – text if you can’t.”
  • If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired or disabled, and Text to 9-1-1 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
  • If you text 9-1-1 and text is not available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message advising, “Text is not available please make a voice call to 9-1-1.”
  • Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon. Be prepared to give your location.
  • Text to 9-1-1 service will not be available if the wireless carrier cannot ascertain a location of the device sending the message.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1. They cannot be received at the 9-1-1 center at this time.
  • Text messages should be sent in plain language and not contain popular abbreviations (SMH, LOL, ICYMI) or emojis, which will not be recognized.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1.

Texts must be in English only. There currently is no language interpretation for text available. This is still in development.

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