The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has advised the public to prefer reaching emergency 911 through voice calls. The agency said using the text service to reach 911 during emergencies may still not be that effective and reliable because of certain limitations in the operations.
On its Website, FCC reiterated that contacting 911 through text is available only on a limited basis and only within a few markets. Thus, it vehemently stated that the public should instead call 911.
Text-to-911 is now available only in 59 areas of the over 6,000 emergency communication centers across the country. Thus, it is not advisable to use text-to-911 even in areas where the texting service is already available.
Pushing the text service
It can be recalled that for quite some time already, the agency has been urging public safety officers as well as wireless networks to roll out full implementation of text-to-911. This service would logically help speech-disabled and deaf people to reach 911 during emergencies.
It should also be noted that during times of catastrophes and hurricanes, texting for help would be more likely. In such cases, voice calls going to 911 may not be reliable as the infrastructure may be affected by the calamity. But sending texts to the authorities would be more helpful.
According to data from FCC, there are 59 emergency communications centers where text-to-911 are deployed as of May 9. Those are located across 16 states.
To date, there are over 23,000 centers for public safety communications across the US. Many of those are regional and are not presently designated to handle either calls or texts to 911. There are over 6,000 of FCC’s Public Safety Answering Points, where emergency calls are facilitated.
Verizon Wireless serves most of the emergency communications centers. T-Mobile serves a few, including a county in New York. AT&T, on the other hand, serves two centers across Vermont and North Carolina.
Last May 15, all four of the biggest wireless carriers across the US have the commitment to make texting as an available feature for 911. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint have voluntarily made a commitment to make texting-to-911 accessible to more people.
Emergency responders and the police usually include 911 voice calls during emergency. If users can reach through 211, it would be safer and more reliable oif consumers can make the necessary icloe.