Texting 911

Spokane County 911 has completed testing and is accepting Text-to-911 beginning August 14, 2015. Text-to-911 is available for those who cannot safely place a voice call to 911 in an emergency such as a home invasion, or for those individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability.

Customers with text plans from Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint can now send a text message in an emergency. Customers unsure whether their carrier offers the ability to text to 911 should contact the carrier directly. They should not send “test” messages to 911.

Although Spokane County 911 has done extensive testing, we do not have control over text delivery from the carriers or cellular devices. Text-to-911 is designed for Short Message Service (SMS) texting, but continues to evolve quickly.
Text to 911 Logo
“I’m proud that Spokane County 911 is helping lead the way in the Eastern Washington and the State of Washington with the acceptance of Text-to-911,” said the department’s Operations Manager Amy McCormick. “Dialing 911 in an emergency is still the preferred and most efficient way to request help.”

Call receivers want to remind everyone to “Call if you can, text only if you can't.”

How to Text 911
If Text-to-911 is available in your area, here are some important steps:
  1. Open your phone’s text messaging program
  2. Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field (no dashes)
  3. Type a message with the location of the emergency (including city) and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical)
  4. Push the “Send” button
  5. Stay with your phone, be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker
  6. Do not send “test” messages to 911
Text-to-911 service is not yet available statewide. If you send a text to 911 from a wireless carrier or a city/county without Text-to-911 service, you should receive a message from your cellular provider saying that there is not text-to-911 service available at this time.

Spokane County 911 is live with Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. Carriers that use the Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint networks (for example Virgin Mobile) may also deliver text messages to Spokane County 911. If you are unsure whether your carrier offers text-to-911, please contact the carrier directly.

A few things to know about text-to-911:
  • 911 texting will not work while roaming
  • A text / data plan is required
  • Sending a text to 911 will take longer than a voice call. Time is critical in a life-threatening emergency, and customers should be aware of this difference
  • Just like regular text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order or may not be received at all
  • Location information with a text is not equal to calling 911 at this time
  • Non-English translation is not available
  • Group texts, photos and video cannot be sent to 911
  • Do not text and drive
Tips On Texting 911 in an Emergency
  • Text only for emergencies not for convenience
  • Your first message should be the location of the emergency and the type of emergency help needed (police, fire, or medical)
  • Text in simple words - do not use abbreviations or emoticons
  • Keep your text messages brief and concise
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at this time