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Text to 911 - Call When You Can, Text If You Can't
Centre County 911 is constantly striving to meet the evolving needs of the public and right now that means implementing Text to 911.

Text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate today, especially young people and members of the hearing & speech impaired community.  There are approximately 54 million people with disabilities in the United States, and 34 million of those are hard of hearing, deaf or speech impaired.  Text to 911 could also help in situations where a crime is in process, or caller is facing domestic abuse and unable to speak, or the caller is injured and cannot speak.  There are many scenarios.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Big 4 carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to have texting to 911 capabilities in place.
  • Text to 911 is not available in if you are roaming, and not capable in some areas.
  • Photos & videos cannot be sent to 911.
  • Phone applications (apps--WhatsApp for example) do not work with Text to 911.
  • You must have a text capable, wireless phone AND wireless service plan w/texting (required).  Cannot send a Text to 911 message without a service contract.
  • If you text in an area that is not set up for Text to 911, you will receive an automatic reply or bounce back message indicating “Text to 911 service is unavailable”.  It will also instruct you to call 911 directly.
  • Do not use abbreviations, slang, acronyms, no emoji’s, no emoticons.
  • Texting can be slightly delayed when 911 replies to you
  • There are two-letter abbreviations following each 911 reply: ga = "go ahead"; q = "question"; sk = "stop keying" (ending conversation.)
  • There is a limit on message length – so keep it simple!
  • Do not text to more than one person during your emergency and do not text to more than one 911 center while you are texting your emergency.
  • Text to 911 is different from making a voice call because when you make a voice call, Phase II capability is enabled (dispatcher typically receives your phone number and location automatically) – this is called Enhanced 911 or E911. Text to 911 is not that way. Text to 911 is Phase I.  You must provide all of the information to us in text which takes longer to type, send and complete. Texting does not automatically provide your location.
  • Voice communication is best—whenever possible!  Calling is the best way and most efficient way to reach emergency help and establish quicker response.

HOW TO TEXT:  Keep it brief, concise and watch your spelling!

  1. Enter “911” in the “to” field
  2. In the message section type your issue and the address (Ex:  I have chest pain, 5555 Buffalo Run Road, Benner Twp).
  3. Press send.
  4. Be prepared for dispatcher to reply with more questions & instructions – there could be a slight delay. The two letter abbreviations following each 911 reply are: ga = "go ahead"; q = "question"; sk = "stop keying." (ending conversation.)
  5. Remain in communication until instructed to terminate the call.