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Can you Text 9-1-1 in Clark County?

posted May 20, 2014, 10:04 AM by Donavon Mattern   [ updated May 20, 2014, 10:04 AM ]
The short answer, "Not yet!" Our local 9-1-1 dispatching center (CRESA) has issued a news release to help us understand more about text messages. 

Quoting CRESA:
May 15th, marked the deadline for mobile carriers to be ready to allow consumers to text 9-1-1 for emergencies. You likely saw this heavily reported on the news, in trade magazines and on social media yesterday. 

Government-owned 9-1-1 infrastructure must also be prepared to take SMS messages and be able to process them in a way that gives agencies like ours the information necessary to act on the text message. 

Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) or 9-1-1 Agencies in the State of Washington are dependent on preparatory activities that are occurring at the State level to enhance the "emergency services info net" or the ESI Net. Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) received all 9-1-1 calls over this State-wide ESI Net. 

CRESA is currently working on equipment upgrades that will allow us to receive text messages in SW Washington once the State has upgraded the ESI Net to deliver that information. 

Currently, if you send a text to 9-1-1 in an area that is not capable, you will receive a bounce-back message from the carrier that will let you know that your text message was not received by a 9-1-1 Agency. 

And while we appreciate the situations in which text will be useful (if the caller cannot use their voice), you will always hear us say that "Voice is the Choice" and most preferred method of sharing information. This is because we can confirm your location and gather information about the emergency much more quickly from a voice caller. 

Consider for a minute what most of your text messages look like and how often there are seconds-long drag between your information-sharing with friends. When "every second counts" in an emergency, we want to be sure that we can effectively and efficiently dispatch the emergency services you need to respond to your call. 

Out of the 9,000 agencies in the United States that provide 9-1-1 services, here is the list of locations where text-to-911 is currently in place:http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/text-to-911-deployments.pdf

Help us help you by being sure that your friends and family understand that May 15th was only a significant marker for the phone carrier side of this equation. And keep watching for news from CRESA as to when we will be ready to receive your text messages.