By Michael P. Norton, State House News Service
Calling 911 is the quickest way to summon help in an emergency, but Massachusetts residents can now do so by text, too.
On Dec. 14, a system was deployed across Massachusetts to ensure that text messages sent to 911 would be routed to emergency call centers based on information provided by the texter's service carrier. On Wednesday last week, state officials formally announced that the lifesaving system upgrade is now available to everyone.
The State 911 Department, in a fact sheet, called the Text-to-9-1-1 system “one of the most exciting changes for accessibility to emergency services in more than 20 years.
“Having the ability to contact a 911 call center by text could help those being held against their will or victims of domestic violence unable to make a voice call,” Frank Pozniak, State 911 Department director, said in a statement. “Text to 911 also provides direct access to 911 emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired, which is a service that these communities did not have access to until now.”
Users of the texting approach should enter 911 in the “To” field of their mobile devices – the same process for sending regular text messages – and try to include the address and town where they are texting from, information about the nature of the incident, and any other details about their precise location.
Officials say making a voice call to 911 remains the most efficient way to get emergency services.