Tulare Police Department implements their new 9-1-1 texting functions for situations where people cannot call for help
TULARE – The Tulare Police Department is telling any mobile phone user caught in a dangerous situation: “call if you can; text if you can’t.”
According to the Tulare Police Department wireless customers in Tulare can now send a text message to 9-1-1 for emergency help when unable to make a 9-1-1 voice call. This service will be available to any Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, Comcast or Sprint customer within range of a cell tower within the city.
Text to 9-1-1 was not developed as a replacement, or option, to calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation. Instead, it was developed as an enhancement to reaching 9-1-1 services in three specific situations: The caller is hearing/voice impaired; a medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech; or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger, such as a home invasion, an abduction, a domestic violence incident or an active shooter scenario.
The public safety dispatchers of the Tulare Police Department are honored to be one of the first agencies in Central California to be selected to provide this next generation 9-1-1 service to citizens. Texts to 9-1-1 from areas where the service is not available will receive a “bounce back” message telling them to make a voice call.
Tulare joins the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and Visalia Police Department in offering the texting service to their citizens. There is additional information that customers should keep in mind when using the texting function for emergency calls:
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. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text to 9-1-1 situations because of the time involved: Someone must enter the text; the message must go over the network, and the 911 operator must read the text and then text back.
Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since our dispatch center will receive only the location of the cell phone tower closest to the call’s origin.
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 Tulare. If customers are outside or near the edge of the city, the message may not reach the Tulare Police Department however it may go out to another agency such as the California Highway Patrol or the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.
Texts sent to 9-1-1 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text to 9-1-1 capabilities.
Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages. The solution is available for customers who use the native SMS provided by Wireless Service Provider. Customers should consult their over- the-top (OTT) messaging provider to determine if and how text to 9-1-1 is provided by the OTT application.
The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. For non-emergency situations, customers should contact their local public safety agency via a 10 digit non-emergency number.
SMS911 should only be used to communicate between emergency help and the texter with no pictures, video, other attachments or other recipients appended to the message.