9-1-1: Call if you can. Text if you can’t.


Chester County Emergency Communications has announced that on Nov. 1, 2021 it will begin accepting Text–to–911 service for its territory (Chester County). Wireless customers can send a text (up to 140 characters) to 911 in an emergency.
Text–to–911 should only be used in an emergency situation, when placing a call is not possible; for instance, if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.
While authorities encourage people to use the new feature if necessary, it is not a perfect fix. Calling 911 is still the best, because it is the fastest way to communicate with a dispatcher.
If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a call, remember these steps:

  • Do not text and drive.
  • In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
  • Text in simple words. Send a short message in English without abbreviations or slang.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
    DO NOT abuse 911. Text–to–911 service is ONLY for emergencies.
    It is a crime to text or call 911 with a non-emergency. Prank-texters can be located.
    The Text–to–911 service may have many challenges.
    -A data plan is required to place a Text–to–911.
    -As with all text messages, messages to 911, may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.
    -Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911.
  • Text–to–911 cannot include more than one person. Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than 911.
    Some wireless cell service providers may not be capable of using the technology yet. In these case, individuals that attempt to text 911 will receive a “bounce-back” text instructing them to call 911 instead.
    Text-to-911 has been successfully tested in Chester County with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
    Tennessee made its state platform text-capable in September of 2018. Since then, Chester County has been updating its equipment and testing the new service says Chester County 911 Emergency Communications District Director Patrica Ledford.
    “This is something we really wanted to do on a local level simply because there are times… when a text to 911 would be best. For instance, maybe if there’s an intruder in your home and you’re in a closet somewhere and you have to be very quiet, and you can report that emergency through Text–to–911.
    Things every citizen of Chester County should remember:
    -Voice calls are still the best and fastest way to contact 911. (Call if you can. Text if you can’t.)
    -Users must have a text or data plan with their wireless service provider.
    -Phones connected to Wi-Fi cannot send texts to 911.
    -It is a crime to text or call 911with a non-emergency. Prank-texters can be located.
  • Text–to–911 service begins November 1, 2021 in Chester County.