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“Text-to-911” Service Starts in Santa Monica


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By Lookout Staff

December 5, 2017 – Call if you can. But if you can’t dial 911 in an emergency, Los Angeles County -- including Santa Monica -- has launched a service allowing 911 texts instead.

The rollout started on December 1.

“Santa Monica’s Public Safety Dispatchers are ready to accept 911 text messages,” announced Lindsay Barker, the City’s Chief Resilience Officer.

“We hope that this added feature in all LA County 9-1-1 call centers better enables the public to report emergencies, especially in situations when someone is fearful of making a call or is unable to speak,” she said.

Communities throughout the county are now using the emergency texting system, which is meant to help the hearing impaired, or those who are not able to speak safely on the telephone if seeking emergency help.

Authorities said the public should always dial 911 first if possible, but default to texting 911 if they have the mobile-phone capability.

Some tips to remember:

* Call if you can. Text if you can’t.

* To send a text to 9-1-1, enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field.

* Send the location of the emergency and the type of help needed (Police, Fire, or Medical) in the first text message.

* Text in simple words. Do not use abbreviations.

* Be aware of system limitations, such as not working on roaming calls.

* Follow the instructions of the dispatcher. Be prepared to answer dispatchers’ questions.

* Never text and drive.

Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time, authorities said.

They also ask that the public not test the system in a non-emergency.


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