Over 70 percent of 911 calls today come from cell phones. Citizens in St. Charles County now have another option to reach 911 during an emergency – by text. This service is to be used only when it is not safe or practical to make a 911 call, such as a home invasion or domestic violence incident. Additionally, it can be used by those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability.
Texting 911 has the same results as calling 911, but with added safeguards for texting:
- A citizen text comes in to the 911 system and their approximate location appears for the dispatcher on a computer-based map.
- The dispatcher texts the citizen back to confirm their location and phone number, and asks if it is safe to make a voice call. If the answer is no, the dispatcher will continue to text.
- The dispatcher will keep messages simple and to the point, using simple words and avoiding text lingo or abbreviations. The citizen texting is encouraged to do the same.
Texting 911 is simple:
- Enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field of the text message on a mobile device.
- Send a brief message: location and type of emergency.
Following are important considerations:
- Abuse of the text-to-911 system, such as texting fake emergencies, carries the same legal ramifications in the state of Missouri as abuse of 911 calls
(§ 190.308.1, RSMo 2016)..
- St. Charles County’s text-to-911 service works only in this county.
- A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
- Photos and videos cannot be sent via text-to-911.
- A text to 911 can only be between a dispatcher and one citizen– no group texts.
- Text-to-911 is not available in “roaming” mode.
- As with all text messages, 911 text messages can take time to receive, may be delivered out of order, or may not be received at all. The sender should receive a "not delivered" message from their wireless carrier if a text did not go through. Calling 911 is preferred over texting 911 when it is practical and safe.
- For safety reasons, text-to-911 should not be used while driving.