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VCSO Announces Rollout OF ‘TEXT TO 911’ Service

Fri, Sep 21, 2018 at 11:15AM

Port Orange, FL - The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has released their new “TEXT to 911” service.

“Anytime you have an emergency the best and fastest way to get help is calling 911. Today, for those who can’t make a phone call, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is rolling out TEXT to 911,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood commented.

This service is most useful if you are deaf or hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or are in an emergency where a voice call to 911 may be dangerous.

TEXT to 911 is only available in English and using it requires an active wireless service plan. Inactive phones can still dial 911 as a phone call. It is important to remember you cannot send a text to 911 in a group message. 911 must be the only recipient to the text message.

How it works:

  • Enter the numbers 911 into the “To” field
  • Send the message from your wireless device
  • Include a brief description of the location and type of emergency in your message.
  • Be prepared to answer a few follow-up questions from the emergency call-taker.
  • Keep your messages clear and concise. Do not use abbreviations or emojis.

Response time may be slower when texting, so the Sheriff reminds residents to only use the text option when it is necessary. If seconds matter, calling is the right thing to do.

Poor or restricted access to cellular service may prevent the text from being received by the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Additionally, messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, and other social media messaging apps are not compatible with TEXT to 911.

This service is not available everywhere. While it is available in Volusia, Brevard, Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties, texting 911 may not be effective outside of those areas. If the TEXT to 911 service is not available, you will receive a bounce back text advising you to call 911.

It is heavily emphasized that texting 911 should not be your first choice; use the feature only when absolutely necessary.

“The simple key to remember is call if you can, text if you can’t,” said Chitwood. “And I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t text and drive.”

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