Connecticut residents with an emergency but unable to call 9-1-1 can now use mobile phones to text to 9-1-1 and receive assistance. According to Wilton Emergency Management and Wilton CERT, Wilton emergency dispatch is able to receive 9-1-1 texts, and the service is available on a 24-hour basis.

The service is meant to help individuals who can’t safely speak on the phone or are unable to speak. Officials remind residents that calling is still the best and fastest way to reach 9-1-1, but texting is useful in certain situations, including for anyone who is deaf, is hard of hearing or has a speech disability; for anyone in a situation where it is unsafe or dangerous to call; or anyone who is having a medical emergency and is unable to speak.

Promotional materials carry the message, “Call if you can, Text if you can’t.”

Unfortunately there are some limitations, which is why officials emphasize that calling 9-1-1 is still the preferred way to reach emergency assistance. Text to 9-1-1 cannot receive photos or videos, or messages in Spanish. Moreover, text to 9-1-1 location information is not equal to current voice call location technology–senders must be able to text exact locations. In addition, the text to 9-1-1 service is only available on mobile devices with a mobile phone number on a wireless carrier that allows the device to send and receive text messages.

To use the service, individuals should:

  1. Enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field
  2. Text the exact location of the emergency
  3. Briefly describe what kind of help you need
  4. Push the “Send” button
  5. Respond to any questions
  6. Follow instructions
  7. If you’re driving, pull over when it’s safe. Do not text and drive!

For more information, visit the CT Text to 9-1-1 website.