City of Pickerington

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Text to 911 Now Available

Text to 911 Now Available

August 30, 2021

Text to 9-1-1 is now in Pickerington!  Pickerington Police Chief Tod Cheney recently announced that Text to 9-1-1 is now available within the City of Pickerington. Chief Cheney said the service has just finished testing with the four major wireless carriers (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) and is now operational in the Pickerington Police Departments 9-1-1 Communications Center.

The service can connect cellular devices to 9-1-1 Dispatchers via text messages. Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially young people. Text to 9-1-1 can provide a significant benefit, especially when a caller cannot communicate verbally.

Situations in which Text to 9-1-1 can be used include when the caller is hard of hearing, deaf, or speech impaired; when a crime is in progress and a 9-1-1 voice call might create danger, such as a home-invasion; when the caller is facing domestic abuse, or when the caller is injured or having a medical emergency and cannot speak. The ability to text 9-1-1 dispatchers can be a life-saving resource.

Cheney stressed that Text to 9-1-1 does not replace voice calling. “Text to 9-1-1 is an option for the hearing impaired and those who are in a situation where they may not be able to speak for safety reasons. However, voice calling 9-1-1 is still the preferred method, because its speeds up the process of getting emergency services on the way to those in need.” said Cheney. “It’s very easy to use and works just like a regular text conversation you may have with friends and family.”  

Another texting feature that the Pickerington Police Department will be using is for 911 hang up calls that come in to the dispatch center from a cell phone. The software will send out an automatic text message advising the phone user that we have received a 911 hang up call from their phone number and to send a reply confirming there is not an actual emergency. This feature will save the dispatcher’s time and resources calling back on accidental dials and hang up calls, which make up approximately 30% of 911 calls received.

The system was paid for through a State of Ohio grant and through the Fairfield County wireless 911 fund.

Chief Cheney offered the following tips for using Text to 9-1-1:

How to text 9-1-1 in an emergency:

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field;
  • The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed;
  • Push the “Send” button.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 Dispatcher.
  • Text using simple words—do not use abbreviations or emojicons.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise.

Below are a few things to remember about texting 9-1-1:

  • Text to 9-1-1 location information is not as precise as voice calling 9-1-1, due to the enhanced 9-1-1 features available through voice call mapping technology.
  • As with all text messages, 9-1-1 messages can take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if your cellular device is roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text to 9-1-1 message.
  • If texting to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by other means.
  • At this time, photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text message to anyone other than 9-1-1.
  • Do not text and drive