The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that Text-to-911 has been available throughout Minnesota since December 2017. Text-to-911 is a great option for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who are unable to make a voice call. Another reason to use Text-to-911 would be if you are unable to safely make a voice call and need to remain discreet, such as reporting domestic violence, home invasions, human trafficking and suicidal individuals. Text-to-911 does not have the location accuracy of a traditional voice call and the texter will need to give the 911 Dispatcher their exact location. Persons who are able to make a phone call are still highly encouraged to do so.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to Text-to-911, there are a few reminders that will make things easier for both the texter and the 911 Dispatcher receiving the text:
• Use simple words – no text abbreviations or emojis
• Text your exact location and type of emergency
• Promptly answer questions from the 911 Dispatcher, follow their instructions
Emergency response may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text to be typed and sent, and delivery speed is not guaranteed. Dispatchers prefer to get a voice call so they can get cues from background noise and voice inflections. A text or data plan is required on your phone; you will get a bounce back message if you are roaming; the 160 character limit can make the texts get out of order or may not be received at all; and there is no language translation service for texts to 911.
Remember, texting 911 with a false report is a crime. If you accidently send a text to 911, send another text, or call 911 to let the Dispatcher know there is no emergency.