Text-to-9-1-1 deadline for wireless carriers
May 15 marked the voluntary deadline for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon set to make text-to-911 service available nationwide in their networks. However, this was only a deadline for those carriers. It is up to each 911 call center to decide whether and when to begin accepting texts.
To implement emergency texting, 911 call centers need the proper equipment, software and training. Centers in Washington state are currently working to make the necessary upgrades in order to accept text-to-911, but the technology is not yet in place.
“Texting can be an important tool for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired to use to directly access 911,” said Peggy Fouts, Grays Harbor County E-911 Director. “In addition, in a situation where a victim does not want an intruder or abusive partner to hear them talking, text-to-911 can be very beneficial.”
In the meantime, anywhere that 911 text services are currently not available, wireless carriers have implemented an alert message warning anyone that sends a text that their 911 message was not received, and they should make a voice call to 911 instead.