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Did you know that you can now TEXT 911!?

Marylanders can now text 911 in case of an emergency. This capability will improve the emergency service for those with hearing and speech impairment. It is also beneficial for someone who is in a situation where it is unsafe to place a voice call to 911 or for an individual who is experiencing a medical emergency and may be unable to speak.

Although the capability is there for texting 911, calling is still the preferred method of activating 911. Officials have released a slogan, "Call if you can. Text if you can't." Here's a little Q & A!

Q: How do I text 911?

A: Follow these steps to text 911 in an emergency:

  1. Enter "911" into the "to" field of a new message

  2. Your first text should be short and include the location of the emergency and the type of service needed -- police, fire or ambulance

  3. Press the send button

  4. Answer questions from the 911 specialist and follow the instructions he or she provides

  5. Text in simple words; do not use abbreviations or slang

  6. Keep messages short

Q: How do I know that 911 has received my text? A: If your text has been received, a 911 specialist should respond to your text. If text-to-911 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you should receive a message from your wireless carrier letting you know that you must place a voice or relay call to 911.

Q: Is there a charge for using text-to-911 service? A: Standard text messaging rates apply.

Q: What are the challenges with text-to-911 service? A: As with all text messages, texts to 911 may take longer to receive and respond than a voice call. Texts also do not provide the location of the texter, and could be received out of order or may not be received at all. Additional challenges include:

  • Pictures and/or videos cannot be received by 911 via text

  • If you include another contact on your text to 911 it may not be received by 911

  • The preferred text language for texting 911 is English, however some limited translation services may be available

Here's a few more tips:

  • As with all text messages, messages to 911 may take longer to receive, may be received out of order, and/or may not be received at all

  • If text-to-911 service in not available, you will receive a bounce back message from your carrier telling you to place a phone or relay call instead

  • Photos and videos cannot be received by 911 call centers

  • English is the preferred language for text messaging, though some limited translation services may be available in your area

  • Keep text messages short and simple, and avoid using slang or abbreviations

  • Including an additional contact on your text message may prevent it from being received by 911

  • Call if you can, text if you can't

  • Do not text and drive

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