Snohomish County dispatch centers testing text to 9-1-1 capabilities

Snohomish County 9-1-1 centers are in the testing phase of a service that would allow people to text 9-1-1 in circumstances in which calling for help is impossible or dangerous for the caller. SNOCOM 9-1-1 begins testing this week. SNOPAC plans to test later in the year.

It’s unknown at this time how long the testing phase will last. Once testing is complete, the public will be notified.

Local dispatch centers want to remind people that while sending a text could be possible in the future, texting 9-1-1 is not a replacement for a traditional voice call to 9-1-1 in an emergency. Although the service is not available today, appropriate scenarios for texting 9-1-1 in the future could include:

· The caller is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech disability
· A medical emergency renders the person incapable of speech
· When speaking out loud would put the caller in danger — such as a home invasion, an abduction, a domestic violence incident or an active shooter scenario.

During the testing phase, Text-to-9-1-1 is not available in Snohomish County. Even when Text-to-9-1-1 becomes widely available, the best way to contact 9-1-1 will continue to be by voice communications whenever possible. When text does become available, remember — Call if you can, text if you can’t.

Questions about the testing phase or the new service in general should be directed to SNOCOM 911 Executive Director Debbie Grady at 425-774-2501 or or SNOPAC 911 Executive Director Kurt Mills at 425-407-3911.

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