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Text-to-911 is proving a vital lifeline already in Minnesota

It's being used in multiple situations where phone calls aren't possible.
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What's happening?

Minnesota's emergency services began in December accepting 911 text messages, and the results are promising.

In the first three months of operation, 920 people sent texts to 911 to report an emergency.

Not only is the service a crucial one for the deaf or hard of hearing, it's also already proving vital for those who need to be quiet during an emergency to stay safe.

Here are where most of the texts have come from in its first three months.

How are they being used

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has provided some examples of how the service has proved useful in its first few months.

They include:

  • A person reported shots fired outside their home after hearing the shots and seeing the gunfire through a window. The microphone on their phone was disabled.
  •  A child texted 911 when their parents were having a domestic dispute. The child was previously punished by her parents after placing a voice call to 911 in a similar situation.
  • A person hid in the basement during a burglary. They were scared to make a voice call because the intruder may have heard them.
  • A suicidal individual did not feel comfortable talking to someone, so they texted for help instead.
  • A person had difficulty breathing from a panic attack and could not speak, so they texted 911.

That said, some dispatchers reported that some have used 911 either for non-emergencies or situations where it's acceptable to call instead – such as to report a downed tree or a hit-and-run collision.

Also, some texts went cold after dispatchers asked follow-up questions.

Minnesotans are being reminded to call if they can, but text if they can't.

Reminders when texting 911

In the event of an emergency that requires a text to 911, you should.

– Provide an accurate location in the initial text.

– Be ready to respond promptly.

– Not use abbreviations, emojis or slang.

– If you accidentally text 911, send another text to let the dispatcher know there's no emergency. Making a false report is a crime.

You can send a text to 911 by putting 911 in the "To" field on your phone, typing your message and then sending.

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