Text-to-911: What is it?

June 29, 2017

Text to 911

Written by: Julia Sifferlen, Summer Intern

If you were stuck in a dangerous situation where your assailant was preventing you from calling 911, how would you be able to get the help you need without their knowledge? To eliminate situations such as these, an emergency text service has become available in all 92 counties of Indiana. This service, Text-to-911, provides a way for users to contact emergency services without raising suspicion or drawing attention.

What is it?

Text-to-911 is equipped to serve all users of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. All the victim of the crime has to do is send a text to 911 detailing their emergency and location. The text will be sent to all 911 dispatchers of the victim’s county, who will be able to answer and have the ability to text back and forth with the caller. In all Indiana counties, when a user texts 911, a dispatcher will reply as quickly as possible.

When should I use it?

Despite the convenience of this text service, dispatchers ask that it only be utilized when absolutely necessary. Phone calls can provide faster detail and description that a text message cannot. When 911 phone calls are made, the dispatchers typically receive the caller’s phone number and approximate location automatically. Using Text-to-911 will not provide the call taker with this automated information, which can potentially make the conversation and assistance much slower.

Who should use it?

In many emergency situations, users do not have the safety and freedom to make a phone call. Many people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or those who have a speech disability have also utilized this service. Cases such as these are examples of the times Text-to-911 should be utilized.

This service can prove especially useful to victims of domestic violence who can often be trapped in their own homes. For many, this new program can be the reason they are able to get safety. For one woman, this meant being trapped in the bedroom with her abusive spouse and being able to text 911 without worrying about waking him with a phone call. For another, it meant telling her partner she was texting for a ride when really she was getting necessary help. With Text-to-911, contact with emergency services are accessible to victims even if the assailant is in the room with them.

By making this available to all counties, Indiana has opened up a new door for victims to safely receive the emergency services they need to escape an abusive relationship.

To learn more details about the service, visit this link here: https://www.in911.net/index.html