Monroe County 9-1-1 now has announced “Text to 9-1-1,” a new option for Verizon customers who need to contact 9-1-1.
Verizon Wireless customers in Rochester and Monroe County can now send a short message service (SMS) text message to 9-1-1 for emergency help when they are unable to make a 9-1-1 voice call. This service will initially be available to any Verizon Wireless customer within range of a cell tower in Monroe County.
“Because Rochester is home to a large community of deaf and hard of hearing residents, it is essential that emergency dispatchers are able to communicate quickly in an emergency situation,” said Mayor Richards. “Text to 9-1-1 is an innovative and inclusive public safety service that will aid those in need by providing efficient communication with 9-1-1--when every second counts.”
Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for use in two emergency scenarios: for an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing; and for a person who is unable to make a voice call, for example during a medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech, or in the instance of a home invasion or abduction.
Important Information for Verizon Wireless Customers in Monroe County:
• Customers should use the texting option only when calling 9-1-1 is not an option.
• Using a phone to call 9-1-1 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency.
• Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the Communications Center will receive only an approximate location of the cell phone, and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text. Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
• Customers must be in range of cell towers in Monroe County. If customers are outside or near the edge of the county, the message may not reach the Emergency Communications Department.
• Texts sent to 9-1-1 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
• Verizon Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text to 9-1-1 capabilities.
• Verizon Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages.
• The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services.
• Text messages should only be used to communicate between 911 Center and the sender. Pictures, video, other attachments or including other recipients are not able to be accommodated.