Hearing and speech-impaired members of the community, or those in a situation where it is too dangerous to dial 9-1-1 have another option to call for help in an emergency – Text to 9-1-1.
Effective immediately, Ventura County law enforcement agencies’ and fire agencies’ Public Safety 9-1-1 Centers (dispatch) will be equipped to receive and respond to mobile phone SMS Text-to-9-1-1 messages.
Benefits to the public are significant, especially in cases when the caller cannot communicate verbally. Examples include not only the hearing-impaired, but also when a crime is in progress, the caller is facing domestic abuse, the caller is injured and cannot speak, or other scenarios.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Association of Public Safety Officials (APCO) agreed in 2012 to provide Text-to-9-1-1 as a nationwide interim solution until the Next Generation of 9-1-1 is deployed. Text-to-9-1-1 technology will provide the public with an additional means of requesting emergency services and will provide additional support to the deaf, hard-of-hearing, and the speech-impaired communities.
Below are the FCC guidelines for how to contact 9-1-1. If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:
- If you can, always contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call.
- If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text-to- 9-1-1 is not available, use a Teletype (TTY) or telecommunications relay service, if available.
- If you text 9-1-1 and text is not available in your current area, you will receive a bounce back message advising “Please make a voice call to 911. There is no text service to 911 available at this time.”
- Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon. Be prepared to give your location.
Limitations on Text to 9-1-1:
- Text-to-9-1-1 service will not be available if the wireless carrier cannot ascertain a location of the device sending the message.
- Text-to-9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
- A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1.
- Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1. They cannot be received at the 9-1-1 center at this time.
- Text messages should be sent in plain English and not contain popular abbreviations such as SMH (shaking my head) and LOL (laughing out loud), or emojis, which will not be recognized.
- Text-to- 9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person. Do not send a text to 9-1-1 within a group text format.
- Texts must be in English only. There currently is no language interpretation for text available. This is still in development.
Also, unlike a voice call, text messages are not real-time communication and are subject to issues such as messages being received out of order or being delayed due to carrier limitations and volume.
All 9-1-1 centers within Ventura County are currently equipped to receive Text-to-9-1-1 and include the following:
- California State University, Channel Islands Police Department
- California Highway Patrol - Ventura
- Oxnard Police Department
- Port Hueneme Police Department
- Santa Paula Police Department
- Simi Valley Police Department
- Ventura County Fire Department (also dispatches for Federal, Fillmore, Oxnard and Ventura Fire)
- Ventura County Sheriff’s Office (also dispatches for Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, and Ojai cities.)
- Ventura Police Department
For additional information regarding Text-to-9-1-1, please contact the local law enforcement agency where you reside. If located in the City of Ventura, please contact the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4400.