Starting on December 1, Long Beach residents can now text 9-1-1 for help in an emergency.
The new service is particularly useful for hearing and speech-impaired residents and for those in situations where it might be too dangerous to call 9-1-1.
“It is important that all residents are able to contact Police, Fire and emergency medical services when needed,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “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.”
Text to 9-1-1 follows the Federation Communications Commission (FCC)’s slogan, “Call if you can — text if you can’t” currently being used by Long Beach and other cities throughout Southern California implementing the new technology.
“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,” stated the city’s announcement today.
Text to 9-1-1 requires the user have a cell phone that has the capability to send text messages, and location services must be turned on. Currently the new service is only available in English, however other language solutions are in development and will be implemented when 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,” Reggie Harrison, director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications, said in a statement. “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.”
To text to 9-1-1, follow the guidelines below:
- 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 together to coordinate the implementation of this texting tool, according to the release.