CALL 911 If You Can: TEXT Only If You Can't
Text to 911 Now Available in Broward
Text to 911 was rolled out in Broward in April. The new service, part of an approximately $500 million investment the County has made since consolidation of the Regional 911 System, helps residents and visitors who fear calling 911 will endanger their lives.
The result speaks for itself. Since April, the Regional System has received over 600 texts to 911. More importantly, callers appear to be using the service as intended, with very little reporting of non-emergency situations, or texting when calling was an option. Text to 911 is effectively providing emergency services and saving lives, including a recent victim of domestic violence, and a suicidal caller.
This service is NOT available everywhere you go. Currently, it is not available in Miami-Dade County but is available in Palm Beach County and 36 other counties around Florida. If you send a text to 911 and the service is not offered, it will send you a message back telling you to make a voice call. That however can waste valuable time, so the mantra is:
CALL 911 if you can; TEXT ONLY if you can't.
Text to 911 will give a voice to those who would be in danger if they were to place a phone call and meets the needs of those with hearing and speech disabilities. The text service does have limitations, in particular you must text your address.
Remember these important tips before sending a text message:
CALL 911 if you can; TEXT ONLY if you can’t
Type 911 in the 'To' field of your message app.
Provide the exact location of the emergency
Make the text message brief and easy to understand
911 text messages are limited to 160 characters each. If the message exceeds that count, it will be split into separate messages.
Do not send pictures, videos, emojis, abbreviations or slang, no group chats
- Be ready to respond to text messages from 911 until the conversation is finished.
The Text to 911 system currently processes texts in English; language translation is not currently available. Broward County 911 personnel are trained to respond to emergency texts and will dispatch help as soon as they confirm the caller’s location and type of emergency. For more information on the Text to 911 system and to see a video, visit 911.Broward.org
Why shouldn’t I text when I can call?
Texting is limited by technology. Sometimes a text can be delayed. You won’t have any indication if it hasn’t been received.
Text to 911 is another tool for people to get help in a life-threatening emergency. It is not a substitute for calling 911 and is designed to help the hearing and speech impaired who may not be able to communicate by calling 911, or anyone who fears they’ll put themselves in danger by speaking out loud. This could include victims of an active shooter, domestic violence or home invasion. It is to be used for emergency purposes only and as with all texts, texts to 911 may be delayed or not received at all. Text to 911 expands emergency services in all of Broward County, but the preference is for people to CALL if you CAN, TEXT only if you CAN'T.