Text-to-9-1-1 Now Available in Potter and Randall Counties, some Brazos Valley counties


Text-to-9-1-1 Now Available in Potter and Randall Counties

September 14, 2016

When an emergency occurs, calling 9-1-1 isn’t always an option. Residents in Potter and Randall counties can now send text messages to 9-1-1.

Text-to-9-1-1 provides accessibility to the hearing and speech-impaired population and provides an alternative to reach help in a dangerous situation when a voice call is not possible or where a voice call fails due to a high-volume of activity.

We are pleased that this service is now available, however; The Potter, Randall 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District asks that you “Call If You Can, Text If You Can’t.”

How to text-to-9-1-1 in an emergency

Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field
The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the
emergency and type of help needed (Police, Fire, Medical)
Push the “Send” button
Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker
Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations or slang
Keep the text message brief and concise

When to text 9-1-1
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, speech impaired, or non-verbal
When making a voice call could put you in danger
If you are injured and cannot speak
If you are in a remote location and can only send text messages

What you should know
Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time
Text-to-9-1-1 will only work in SMS format. Your device must have a text or a data plan. A “group text” will cause your message to 9-1-1 not to go through.

Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1. Do not use emoticons or other symbols and do not use abbreviations or acronyms. You may receive a “bounce back” message similar to following ” Text to 9-1-1 is not available please make a voice call” if a network provider is experiencing technical difficulties, your device is not supported, or you have traveled to an area where Text-to-9-1-1 is not supported.

Currently this service is available to all citizens and visitors to Potter and Randall Counties, including the cities of Amarillo and Canyon.

The surrounding Texas Panhandle counties and cities will see this service deployed in the first half of 2017.




Text-to-9-1-1 service available in some Brazos Valley counties

August 10, 2016

By Taylor Durden, Reporter

(KXXV) – If you live in the Brazos Valley, you can now text to 911 during an emergency, if you can’t make a call.

A Brazos Valley Council of Governments Regional 911 Program news release said Text-to-9-1-1 service is now available in several Brazos Valley counties, including Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties.

You do not need to add or update your cell phone to use the service. In the recipient field enter 911, compose the message and push send. The system BVCOG is using is called VESTA® 9-1-1. Once you send your text, the VESTA 9-1-1 system sends an automated message asking you the address of the emergency. This starts the text session between you and 911.

“We’ve already received several text messages. All of the centers have. I think it will only increase as they become more confident in it,” Anita Pitt, 9-1-1 Program Manager said.

You should only use Text-to-9-1-1 during an emergency if you’re not able to speak. Authorities said those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired can use it. They added it’s also useful during child abduction, active shooter and domestic abuse situations, plus hurricanes or other disasters.

Dispatchers said making a phone call is still the best way to contact 9-1-1.

“We can process those calls so much faster and the information that we get is going to be faster, accurate and that’s the ultimate goal. It’s to get help to someone who needs it quickly,” Laura Blackburn, Associate Director at the Brazos County 9-1-1 District, said.

During the May storms, Jarod Hartfield, a dispatcher for Washington County, was able to use the texting function for a man with a medical call.

“There was such a heavy call volume during the flood that he couldn’t get through because all the lines were busy, but text was going through. It happened to be another option,” Hartfield said.

Things to know about texting 9-1-1:

911 needs to know your exact location and the nature of your emergency.
Use simple language.
Don’t use abbreviations or slang.
Pull over to a safe location before sending a Text-to-9-1-1.

Right now, you can only Text-to-9-1-1 through the four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless™. You will receive a ‘bounce back’ message telling you to make a voice call if you are in an area where the service is not available.

Text-to-9-1-1 is not available in Brazos County yet. Dispatchers in Brazos County said they expect to have the service available in November.



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