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Mendocino County Residents Can Now Text 911 in Case of Emergency

The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to announce that people in Mendocino County now have the ability to text their emergencies to 9-1-1 using a cellular phone.

Text to 9-1-1 is designed for hearing or speech impaired members of the community, those in a situation where it is too dangerous to make a voice call to 9-1-1, or those in an area of the county with limited service where a voice call cannot be made, but a text message can be delivered.

“Call if you can – Text if you can’t” is the slogan developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the new technology makes its debut in parts of California. People should ALWAYS contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call if available and possible. If a person is unable to make a voice call to report an emergency, they can enter “911” in the destination field of their texting platform, then send their location and a brief description of the emergency in the message area. The dispatcher may receive the longitude and latitude of their location, however they will not have an exact address. Including an exact location when texting 9-1-1 is crucial to get the person appropriate assistance, and as GPS location accuracy varies carrier by carrier it should not be relied upon. Below are some more key elements to remember when sending a text to 9-1-1:

  • Messages should be sent in plain English, please do not use acronyms, short code messages, abbreviations, or emojis.
  • At this time there is not a translation line for Text to 9-1-1, so text messages must be sent in English only.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1, and text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming.
  • Text messages including photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 as they are unable to be received at the 9-1-1 Centers at this time. The entire text message will not be delivered if a photo or video is attached.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person at a time. Do not text a group message to 9-1-1 as the text will not be delivered to the 9-1-1 Centers.
  • If you text 9-1-1 and the service is not available from your location, you will receive an automated return message advising you, “Text is not available, please make a voice call to 9-1-1.”

Much like when making a voice call to 9-1-1, a text to 9-1-1 may not route to the correct Public Safety Answering Point. These 9-1-1 emergency texts may need to be transferred to the appropriate agency, so please understand the dispatcher may advise that your text is being transferred. If you have questions about Text to 9-1-1 for the jurisdiction where you live, please contact your local public safety agency.

For additional information regarding Text to 9-1-1, please visit the following websites:

https://www.911.gov/issue_textto911.html

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/what-you-need-know-about-text-911

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office would also like to notify the public of a free smart phone application that can assist in locating people if they are not certain of their actual location.

A free app called “what3words” is available for download on major smartphone devices and assigns three random words to every 10-foot by 10-foot square in the world. If someone is lost and has the “what3words” app on their phone, they can identify the 3 words assigned to their location, and provide those three words to a public safety dispatcher at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. The dispatcher can use those words to help pin-point the person’s location within a 10 foot square through the mapping system used by dispatchers. Even the remote areas of our county are mapped using this free app so it could make the difference in locating people in need during an emergency.

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