Call If You Can – Text If You Can’t


There is a new technology that officials hope will improve the 911 system by allowing users to notify them of an emergency via text.

It is still better to call than text, said Sgt. Dan Suttles, Glendale Police spokesman.

But texting is another way to get help when calling is not possible.

“We have all heard of people who call 911 when someone is in their home. They have to whisper,” Suttles said. “This would be a good use of texting.”

The GPD joined other agencies throughout Los Angeles County, including LAPD, LASD, California Highway Patrol and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CAL OES) in implementing the new system.

People can send a text in situations when it is too dangerous to call.

“And [it is useful] for those who are hearing or [speech] impaired,” Suttles added.

The GPD and LASD dispatch centers are now equipped to receive and respond to mobile 911 texts. Suttles stressed that the best option is still to call 911 when in an emergency. There is less of a delay between voice versus text conversation; however, this technology adds to the overall ability of the system to support more residents.

Below are the FCC guidelines on how to contact 911 when using a wireless phone or other mobile device:

•Always contact 911 by making a voice call if able.

•For those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled, and text-to-911 is not available, use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.

•Remember that in most cases 911 cannot be reached by sending a text message.

Where text to 911 is not yet available, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to send an automatic “bounce-back” message that will advise the user to contact emergency services by another means, such as making a voice call or using telecommunications relay service (for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability). Bounce-back messages are intended to minimize the risk of mistakenly believing that a text to 911 has been transmitted to an emergency call center.