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Text to 9-1-1

Text to 9-1-1 is now available in San José and Santa Clara County.

9-1-1. Call If You Can.  Text If You Can't.  If you need help, but can't safely speak on the phone or are unable to speak, use your mobile phone to send a text message to 911.

Text to 9-1-1 is an option to help those who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, or anyone who feels unsafe speaking over the phone.

Call if you can. Text if you can’t. 

Dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred way to ask for help. 

Under the current U.S. technology, English is the only option to use the Text to 9-1-1 service.
The Text to 9-1-1 service is available in most areas of Santa Clara County. See the FAQ for available cities. It should only be used for emergencies when callers cannot safely call 9-1-1, or have hearing or speech impairments. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “Text to 9-1-1” technology? 
  • Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send a text message to 9-1-1 from your mobile phone or handheld device.

Can I Text to 9-1-1 in Santa Clara County? 

  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available everywhere and is not always available when roaming.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is currently available in San José, unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, and Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale. The Town of Los Gatos is expected to offer the service by the end of 2019.
  • You must subscribe to your wireless carrier’s text or data plan in order to send or receive text messages.
  • If Text to 9-1-1 is not available in your area or is temporarily unavailable, you should receive a message indicating that Text to 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by other means.

When should I text 9-1-1? 

  • Dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred way to request help. The public is reminded to “Call if you can. Text if you can’t.”
  • Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for three emergency scenarios:
    1. For someone who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, or has a speech disability.
    2. For someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 9-1-1.
    3. A medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech.
  • ONLY text 9-1-1 in an emergency. Prank-texters can be identified and possibly prosecuted according to local laws and regulations.

What are the challenges with Text to 9-1-1 service? 

  • As with all text messages, Text to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive and respond to than a voice call, does not provide the location of the texter, and could be received out of order or may not be received at all.
  • Text GPS location information is not equal to current wireless location technology.
  • Voice calls are real-time communication and Text to 9-1-1 is not.
  • Pictures or videos cannot be received by 9-1-1 at this time.
  • If you include anyone else on your Text to 9-1-1, it may not be received by 9-1-1.
  • At this time, translation services for Text to 9-1-1 are not available. Please text in English only. For additional information, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers a Text to 9-1-1 Translation Fact Sheet

How do I text to 9-1-1? 

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field.
  • The first text message to 9-1-1 should be short. Include your address, city, and type of emergency (police, fire or medical).
  • Push the “Send” button.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Text in simple words. Do not use abbreviations or slang.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise.

How will I know if 9-1-1 received my text? 

  • A 9-1-1 call center should respond to the text.
  • If Text to 9-1-1 is not available, you should receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that Text to 9-1-1 is not available and that you must place a voice or relay call to 9-1-1.

Is there a charge to text-to-9-1-1? 

  • Standard text-messaging rates apply.

Can I text to 9-1-1 in languages other than English? 

  • Text to 9-1-1 is currently only available in English.