Updated:
Original:

You can text 911 now in Minnesota – but it's not as safe as calling

What Minnesotans need to know about Text-to-911.
Author:

The Essentials

– Minnesotans are now able to text 911 during an emergency, thanks to a new development from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) called "Text-to-911." All of Minnesota's 104 emergency dispatch centers have been trained on the new technology.

– You can text 911 by entering the numbers in the "To" field and sending a message that includes your location and type of emergency. Just like a fake phone call, it's a crime to text 911 with a false report.

– It comes with challenges, such as a 160 character limit, so calling 911 is still the best way to reach emergency dispatchers. The DPS says "Call if you can, text if you can't."

The Big Picture

It's hard to believe this doesn't exist everywhere already, considering how useful it could be in certain situations. But according to the Star Tribune, of the 6,400 emergency call centers nationwide, only about 20 percent have the capability to respond to texts

It's a solution for people who must remain quiet during a dangerous situation, and can't make a phone call safely.

It's also a breakthrough for the 20 percent of Minnesotans who have some form of hearing loss. Until now, deaf Minnesotans haven't had a direct way to communicate with 911 centers.

That being said, Text-to-911 has some limitations:

  • Typing and sending texts takes time. A dispatcher and a reporting party could be delayed.
  • Location is not as accurate with text as it is with a call. Officials stress the importance of texting your exact address.
  • A text or data plan is required.
  • Texts to 911 will bounce back if you are roaming.
  • Texts to 911 have a 160 character limit and can get out of order.
  • There is no language translation service.
  • If customers are outside of Minnesota or along a neighboring border, texts to 911 may not be received by a dispatcher.
  • There's no guarantee on the speed of delivery, or whether the text will be received.

Officials say the new texting service should be used only when a person has hearing loss or cannot safely make a voice call.

Next Up

Ambulance hospital emergency

Driver killed after crashing into parked semi-trailer

The crash occurred on the 5800 block of University Avenue Northeast.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings-Panthers: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings will look to open things up in Carolina.

Tanner Morgan/Gopher Football

Morgan's resurgence, Nebraska's miscues help Gophers hold on

The Gophers quarterback threw a pair of touchdowns in a 30-23 victory.

Tina Smith

Sen. Tina Smith warns Dems she may not vote for budget bill if climate plan dropped

This comes amid a White House effort to get its "Build Back Better" plan passed.

Pixabay - emergency room ambulance hospital

St. Paul man dies six days after crash on I-94

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has identified the man as David Rodney Hardaway.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Double murder in northeastern Minnesota, suspect kills himself after chase

The suspect died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

chaska school fight

Anti-masker involved in school board meeting fight charged with assault

It happened last month at an Eastern Carver County Schools hearing.

Marcus Foligno

Marcus Foligno throws hands, scores game-winning goal in Wild's opener

The Wild forward scored with 7.2 seconds left to beat Anaheim.

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Large police presence at Emagine Willow Creek movie theater in Plymouth

There are few details at this stage as to what has happened.

Maple Grove Police Department

Maple Grove-based businessman convicted of fatally shooting wife

Wiseman owns properties in both Minnesota, Nevada and China.

betty and earls biscuits facebook

Jason Matheson's biscuit shop to briefly close ahead of relaunch

Betty & Earl's will shut down for two weeks before reopening under a new name.

Related

Uber to allow Minnesota riders, drivers to text 911 via its app

The safety feature allows people to report emergencies during a ride-share journey.

Uh oh – 911 calls weren't going through Wednesday, FCC investigates why

Some emergency officials say this is an example why America's 911 centers need a technology upgrade.

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

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

ice fishing

Butt-dialing anglers to blame for increase in 911 calls in northern MN

The sheriff's office says anglers are accidentally hitting the emergency sos buttons on their phones, which calls 911.

Derek Chauvin

Audio reveals 911 dispatcher was concerned about George Floyd

The dispatcher notified a superior when three officers pinned Floyd to the ground.