911 Centers in Washington and Oregon are currently working on upgrading their systems in order to accept Text to 911. CRESA along with seven other 911 agencies in the region are pleased to announce that the ability to text to 911 is now available in the Portland Metro Region including Clark County.
Why is Texting 911 Important?
Texting is intended to benefit people that may not be able to speak due to an emergency such as a home invasion or abusive partner, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities
Who Has Text-to-911 Capability in Oregon & SW Washington?
As of August 2016, Text-to-911 is available in the following counties in Oregon and SW Washington:
- Clatsop County (Oregon Coast)
- Clackamas County (Lake Oswego east to Mount Hood)
- Columbia County (St. Helens and county northwest of Portland)
- Clark County (Vancouver and Southwest Washington)
- North Marion County (Woodburn and Valley corridor)
- Multnomah County (City of Portland, Gresham)
- Washington County (West of Portland to to the north Oregon Coast)
You can see the map of which 911 agencies this initiative covers by clicking here.
Does Text-to-911 replace voice 911 calls?
Texting should ONLY be used when you are unable to make a voice call to 911. If you are able to place a voice call, we are able to gather information more quickly from you about the emergency, your location and what hazards responders may encounter. If, however, you are unable to place a voice call, Text-to-911 is an option you can use to share this same information.
The key thing to remember is Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.
Here is a video from our 911 friends in Vermont to illustrate why Text-to-911 can be especially useful for the deaf and hard of hearing communities
For more information regarding text to 911 in SW Washington and NW Oregon, please visit: www.nwtext911.info
For more information regarding text to 911 in Washington State, visit: http://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/e911/texting911
What are the challenges with accepting 9-1-1 texts?
The 911 Call Center cannot identify the person’s exact location. In fact, location accuracy is worse with text messages than when you call into 9-1-1. Additionally, it can take more time for a call taker to respond to a written text messages or we may receive gaps if messages don’t come through.
What happens if someone texts a 911 call center that does not accept texts?
Anywhere 911 text services are not available, callers should receive a “bounceback” message that says text-to-911 is NOT available in that area.
Can I send photos and video?
For the moment, 911 can only accept written words. Accepting pictures and video will be coming in the future; however, many of the carriers cannot transmit multi-media messaging (MMS) at this time.
Can I send emojis?
No, most phones turn emoticons into multi-media messages (MMS) which are currently blocked by the phone carriers. This means your whole message to 911 may be garbled or simply won’t come through at all to 911.
Can I include 911 in a group text or send text to 911 while roaming?
No. If your phone is in roaming mode or you add 911 to a group text, we will not receive your message.
Will this cost the public more money?
There is no cost to the person texting 911. There is an increased cost to the 911 centers that is partially offset by the 911 tax. Data regarding the full impact to agency operations and personnel costs will not be available for some time.
Who governs Text-to-911 exactly?
The FCC required the wireless carriers to offer Text-to-911 service. However it is up to each 911 center to determine when they are capable, both technically and operationally, to accept text messages.
Is there an FCC regulation that requires 911 centers to accept text to 911?
At this time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has only placed a regulation on the wireless carriers to make text available. Currently, 911 centers are not required to accept text messages.