Have you ever been in a situation where it might have been easier or more practical to send a text message than to call? Sometimes placing a call isn’t an option, and sending a text message is potentially your only means of communication. The same goes for times when you might be in an emergency and need to contact 911 for emergency assistance. Sometimes it just isn’t practical or safe to pick up the phone and actually place and stay on the call. Thankfully the four major U.S. carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless) are all now supporting a text-to-911 initiative that will allow anyone who is an emergency situation and in need of help, to send a message to 911 instead of calling.
Now, allowing the new means for contacting 911 is one thing but actually having the capability to use the feature is another and has yet to take place in some areas. The FCC had set a regulation that stated carriers would have to have everything they needed to make this work in place by May 15th and that is exactly what all the carrier have done, but that by no means translates to everyone being able to utilize the help system just yet. It will still take a little bit of time before everything is fully functioning and anyone on one of those four carriers can send those texts for help. The reason why it may not yet be available everywhere is because the 911 call centers still have to implement things on their end, which takes time. The good news is that some areas are already supported and people will be able to send texts for help instead of placing a call in some locations. You can check your local area here from this FCC PDF.
Most or all areas are expected to be up and running and fully supported by the end of the year, which means some locations will still have a little bit of time to wait, but it’s good to know that at least this sort of option is on its way. Some areas are listed as having deployment dates that started last fall, while others started this year and are continuing to get things working.