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Police Department

Posted on: March 26, 2018

Text-to-911 Program Launches in Minnesota

Recently a new program was announced throughout the state that allows deaf and hard of hearing people the ability to make an emergency call.

911 has always been the first call made when there’s an emergency but now that call can be a text.

"There are occasions when people aren't able to make a voice call, so this will give them an opportunity to contact them and get emergency service personnel started their way whether it's a crime call, a fire call or a medical call," says Captain Jon Urquhart, Coon Rapids Police Department.

Until now, deaf Minnesotans have gone without a direct way of communicating with 911 centers. The Text to 911 program will also allow those in a dangerous situation where speaking on a phone may not be safe, a way to get help.

"The texting will be beneficial to those who can't call us. There may be an intruder they have to hide from so texting is going to be quieter," says Kari Morrissey, Communications Coordinator, Central- Communications 911.

"The text will come in indicating that it's a text to us, we'll respond back asking the texter to send us their address and the emergency immediately because it's a little slower, so our motto is, call when you can, text if you can't," says Morrissey.

If there is an emergency and you cannot call 911, you should take these steps: Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field. Text your exact address and type of emergency. Send the message. Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emoji's pictures or slang. Promptly answer questions and follow instructions.

Anoka County will be live with the program mid-January, but the service is still available to Anoka County residents.

"Right now if you text in Anoka County, Hennepin County is fielding our texts, so they'll ask the same information we would and then forward us that information, but again, it's a delay, so call if you can, text if you can't," says Morrissey.

Because ambient noise and voice inflections can be very helpful for dispatchers, remember to always call 911 if you can, but if you can't help is now at your fingertips.

The deployment of "Text to 911" in Minnesota is fully funded by 911 fees collected from all devices capable of placing a 911 emergency phone call.

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