June 20, 2022

Obion County Emergency Communications District (E-911) has joined the growing number of communities which are able to receive Text-to-911.

This technology was adapted to better serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities initially as a modern answer to TTY and TDD machines. In addition, there are times in geographical locations where a text can get out when a voice call cannot; the same goes for disasters.

Tennessee's 911 Districts continue to lead the nation in matters from Next Generation 911 adoption to leading in Missing Kids Readiness Partnership Program participants with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"We want everyone to remember that it is always better to call and speak to the 911 dispatchers if possible," Obion County 911 Executive Director Sherri Hanna said. " But if a person cannot get a voice call out or cannot speak for a valid reason, then sending a text to 911 is recommended. If the text comes through to a text-enabled center like ours, the person should be ready to answer some brief questions just as if on a 911 call. Remember--call when you can, text if you can't."

Text-to-911 is not available in all jurisdictions of neighboring states and/or communities, and a text that goes to those areas without text capabilities will just receive a bounceback message. Hanna does remind the public all pictures and videos are not accepted now; in the future they may be sent to a clearinghouse so that they are routed directly to responders.

Obion County Emergency Communications District announced June 20 that it has begun accepting text–to–9-1-1 service for its territory--within Obion County. Most wireless customers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as other plans that run on their networks (such as StraightTalk) can now send a text (up to 140 characters) to 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Text to 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency situation, when placing a call is not possible: For instance, if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.

During disasters, you may be able to get a text out to report an emergency when the voice message just won't make it.

If there is an emergency and unable to make a call, remember these steps:

• Don’t text and drive

• In the first text message send the location and type of emergency.

• Text in simple words - Send a short text message in English without abbreviations or slang.

• Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.

Don’t Abuse 9-1-1—Text-to-9-1-1 service is ONLY for emergencies.

• It is a crime to text or call 9-1-1 with a false report. Like with voice calls, text messages carry location information. Prank texting is not a joke.

The Text-to-9-1-1 service may have many challenges.

• A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-9-1-1

• As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may

not be received at all.

• If you do not receive a text response from 9-1-1, try to place a 9-1-1 voice call.

• Text-to-9-1-1 does not support photos and videos yet.

• Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your 9-1-1 text as a group message.

• Voice Calls to 9-1-1 Are Still the Best and Fastest Way to Contact 9-1-1

Text-to-9-1-1 service is not available everywhere in Tennessee and the U.S.