Text-to-911 is a service that allows the public to send a text message to 911.
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 911 Text 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
Important Notes About Texting 911
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.
Status of Text-to-911 Service in Pennsylvania
Public safety answering points (PSAPs) have begun the process of adding Text-to-911 service across the commonwealth. Once the upgrade to Next Generation 911 is complete, every Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in Pennsylvania will have the capability to receive text messages.
Text-to-911 Counties in Pennsylvania
See the map below for the status in your county (PDF). In addition, the list below provides the counties in which all four carriers are deployed.