Beginning December 1, 2017, hearing and speech-impaired residents of Long Beach and those in situations where it is too dangerous to dial 9-1-1 for help in an emergency, can Text to 9-1-1. “Call if you can — text if you can’t” is the slogan developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that is currently being utilized by Long Beach and other cities in Southern California that are implementing this new technology.
“It is important that all residents are able to contact Police, Fire and emergency medical services when needed,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Texting is widely used to communicate so it only makes sense that we allow residents to use this technology, Text to 9-1-1, for emergency services as well.”
This new service is available to the public, and is especially beneficial to callers that cannot communicate verbally such as people who are Deaf and/or hearing-impaired, callers facing domestic abuse, or callers who are injured and cannot speak.
Text to 9-1-1 requires a cell phone that has the capability to send text messages, and location services must be enabled. Text messages should be brief, easily understood, and should not contain abbreviations, emojis, or slang. While currently, the texting service is only available in English, other language solutions are in development and will be implemented as soon as they become available. Similarly, the system cannot receive photos and videos at this time.
“We are proud to have coordinated County-wide to bring this much-needed emergency communications tool to residents, businesses and visitors to the City of Long Beach,” said Reggie Harrison, Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications. “While this new texting service is available to the public, I want to remind everyone that calling 9-1-1 remains the most effective method to access emergency personnel.”
Below are guidelines for how to text to 9-1-1:
- Enter the numbers “911” in the text “To” field.
- The first text message to 9-1-1 should contain the location and brief description of the emergency and the type of help needed.
- Push the “Send” button.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 text taker.
- Text in simple words. Do not use abbreviations, emojis, or slang.
- Keep text messages brief and concise.
- Do not text and drive.
Area 9-1-1 call centers, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol and the State Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Department, have worked collaboratively to coordinate the implementation of this texting tool.
About Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications
The mission of the Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications is to protect the lives and property of the community and first responders through comprehensive planning, training and communication to ensure that daily requests for emergency services, as well as response, recovery, and mitigation for major emergencies and disasters is completed in an effective and efficient manner.
For additional information on disaster preparedness topics, please visit our website at www.longbeach.gov/DisasterPreparedness. To stay tuned to disaster preparedness news and information, follow us on Twitter @LongBeachReady or “Like” us on Facebook @LongBeachDisasterPreparedness.