Text-to-911 is a service that allows the public to send a text message to 911. It is currently available in all Pennsylvania counties except for Schuylkill County.
Just as in a voice call, the 911 telecommunicator will continue to ask more questions about your emergency – confirming your location, the people involved, and any other details that are important to responders.
Typing questions and answers back and forth with a 911 telecommunicator takes a considerable amount of time, so please be patient and be as clear and concise as possible with your answers. For this reason, a voice call is preferred.
Text-to-911 may be most helpful in these emergency situations:
- By individuals who have speech or hearing impairments, or who are having a medical emergency that renders them incapable of speech.
- Instances when making noise may endanger the caller, such as a home invasion/robbery, or instances of domestic violence or an abduction.
How to Send A Message
Step 1: Create a new text message or conversation.
Step 2: Type 911 in the "To" or "Recipient" field.
Step 3: Describe your location: Include the address and municipality (township or borough).
Step 4: Describe the situation: Include what type of emergency help is needed.
Step 5: Send the text message.
Text-to-911 is an important tool to enhance communications with the public in an emergency, but it has many limitations. It's important to keep these things in mind:
- A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
- Text-to-911 conversations cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.
- Do not use abbreviations or emojis.
- Voice calls are real-time communication and Text-to-911 is not. As with all text messages, text messages to 911 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.
- 911 call takers will not be able to hear any background noise that could help with assisting during the emergency.
- Location information will be limited to the cell tower that your cell phone is communicating through. A 911 telecommunicator won't automatically know where you are.