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METCAD now has the ability to handle emergency SMS text messages sent to 9-1-1 in Champaign County.  METCAD’s new Text to 9-1-1 service will benefit those who cannot safely call 9-1-1 in an emergency, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment.

To send a Text to 9-1-1, simply put “911” in the “To” section of your text message, then include information about the emergency and its location in the body of the text.  9-1-1 operators will have the ability to text the sender back to request additional information or to confirm that help is on the way.

Text to 9-1-1 may be most appropriate when:

  • Talking out loud would put the individual’s life in danger, like during a home invasion, abduction, domestic violence incident, or active-shooter situation.
  • The individual is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech impairment.
  • The individual is unable to speak due to a medical issue or other condition.

METCAD staff has tested Text to 9-1-1 extensively over the last several months and is now making this service available to the public.  Mobile phone users with a major wireless carrier (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) and a texting plan can utilize Text to 9-1-1.  Consumders using other wireless providers should contact their carrier directly to dtermine if they support Text to 9-1-1 in your area.  Consumers should not send "test" text messages to 9-1-1.

When Texting to 9-1-1, remember to:

  • Include clear information about the location of the emergency and the type of help needed.  METCAD may not receive accurate information about your location.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions texted back by the 9-1-1 operator.
  • Text using clear, simple language.  Do not use abbreviations, emoticons, or emoji.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise.
  • Maintain your line of communication with the 9-1-1 operator until help arrives or the operator closes the dialog.
  • Silence your phone if a text alert could put your safety in jeopardy.

Important information about Text to 9-1-1:

  • Time is critical in a life-threatening emergency, and consumers should be aware that sending a Text to 9-1-1 may take longer than a call would.  The sender not only has to spend time typing the text, but it may take time to be processed by their wireless carrier before being delivered to METCAD.  Following that, the 9-1-1 operator has to review the message, type in a response, and send it back to your wireless device.
  • Location information received with a text may not be as accurate as calling 9-1-1.
  • Only Text to 9-1-1 during emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services.  Do not send “test” texts to 9-1-1.
  • Just like with regular text messages, text messages sent to 9-1-1 can take a while to be received, may be received out of order, or may not be received at all.
  • Sending a Text to 9-1-1 is not available in all areas of the country.
  • If sending a message in an area where Text to 9-1-1 is not available, you should receive a “bounce-back” message directing you to contact 9-1-1 by another means.
  • Group texts, photos and video cannot be sent to 9-1-1.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text to 9-1-1.
  • Never text while driving!