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Bingham County 911 center now receiving text messages

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The following is a news release from the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office.

BLACKFOOT — The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center is excited to announce that we are now able to receive text messages into our 911 System.

If you are speech or hearing impaired, you can now text to 911 for emergency assistance from any mobile device in Bingham County and no longer require a TTY to communicate with 911. (TTY is a device that allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired to use a telephone to communicate through typing rather than a traditional phone conversation.)

If you are in a dangerous situation or otherwise unable to call 911, you can use text-to-911. When doing so, include as much information in each individual message to get help sent more quickly without having to message back and forth repeatedly. That can take time or light up your phone multiple times which can have the potential to further compromise your situation.

To use text-to-911, type 911 in the “to” field of a new text message. Be sure to provide your location as soon as possible, along with a short description of the emergency. Use simple words and no abbreviations. Call if you can, text if you can’t!

Even though text-to-911 is now available in Bingham County, if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call instead. Voice calls allow the 911 call-taker to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from a caller, two—way communication by text can take more time and is subject to limits on the length of text messages.

When you make a voice call to 911, the 911 call-taker will typically receive your phone number and approximate location automatically. However, in some cases, when you text 911 from a wireless phone, the 911 call-taker may not receive this automated information. For this reason, if you send a text message to 911 it is important to give the 911 call-taker an accurate address or location as quickly as possible, if you can. Voice calls are usually the fastest, most efficient way to reach emergency help.

If you attempt to send a text-to-911 and are in an area where the text to 911 service is unavailable (it is not currently available nationwide), you should receive an immediate “bounce-back” message that text-to-911 is not available and that you should contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using telecommunications relay services.

You must have a text-capable wireless phone and a wireless service subscription or contract with a wireless phone company. You may also need a “wireless data plan”. Remember that you can make a voice call to 911 using a wireless phone that does not have a service plan, but you cannot send a text message to 911 without a service contract that includes texting. If you have questions, contact your wireless phone company.

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