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Text to 911 now available in Canyon County, calling still encouraged when possible

Cell phone tips: Text instead of call during hurricanes to ease network congestion
Posted at 3:25 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 17:25:57-04

CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — The Canyon County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that Text to 911 is now available in the county.

The Canyon County Sheriff's Office dispatch center and City of Nampa dispatch center now have the service available, giving citizens and visitors another way to reach out for help in an emergency. CCSO still encourages the community to always call 911 when possible, but to use the text option when calling is not feasible.

The ability to text directly to emergency communication officers will be beneficial in many situations. The texting service provides deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired people direct access to 911 services.

It also provides access to 911 where safety would be compromised if a person were speaking, like domestic violence, home invasion or active shooter situations, according to a news release. The service also enables contact with emergency communication officers when cell service is not good enough for voice calls.

Text to 911 is not available everywhere at this time. CCSO says voice calls to 911 are the best and fastest way to contact emergency services.

“This is a great tool that has already helped save a man’s life right here in our community,” said Sheriff Kieran Donahue. “One of the first text to 911 messages our dispatch center received was from a young child who was speech impaired, and he texted that his dad was having a medical emergency. Our dispatch team was able to get the location of the house via text message and send help. This was a real-life example of how Text to 911 can save lives.

Below are the FCC guidelines on how to contact 911 via text using a wireless phone or other type of mobile device:

  • If you can, always contact 911 by making a voice call, “Call if you can – text if you can’t.”
  • If you are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text to 911 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
  • If you text 911 and text to 911 is not available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message advising “text is not available please make a voice call to 911.”
  • Text messages to 911 may take longer to receive and may get out of order or not be received at all. If you do not receive a text response from 911, try to contact 911 another way.
  • Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon. Be prepared to give your location.
  • Text to 911 service will not be available if the wireless carrier cannot ascertain a location of the device sending the message.
  • Text to 911 is not available if you are roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 as they cannot be received at the 911 center at this time.
  • Text messages should be sent in plain language and not contain popular abbreviations (SMH, LOL, ICYMI) or emojis, which will not be recognized.
  • Text to 911 cannot be sent to more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.
  • Texts must be in English only. There currently is no language interpretation for text available. This is still in development.