“Call if you can. Text if you can’t.” Texting service is for emergencies when people cannot safely call 9-1-1, and for those with hearing and/or speech impairment
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — County leaders and emergency personnel today announced the availability of text to 9-1-1 services throughout Santa Clara County. Text to 9-1-1 is a new option that will help those who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, and anyone who might be unsafe if they were to be heard by an intruder or someone they know. The service is now available in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County and all local jurisdictions, except for Campbell and Los Gatos.
“This new service will be critical in emergency situations involving individuals with disabilities,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “In dire circumstances, when every second counts, it’s good to know we’ve now made it a little easier to get help.”
Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for use in three emergency scenarios:
- When an individual is deaf, hard-of-hearing, or has a speech disability.
- When someone is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 9-1-1.
- When a medical emergency arises that renders the person incapable of speaking.
“Texting to 9-1-1 is an extremely important new feature of the emergency response system in our county,” said Miguel Màrquez, County of Santa Clara Chief Operating Officer. “I encourage everyone to take the time to learn how to use it. It can save your life or the life of someone you know.”
“It takes considerable collaboration and partnership among different jurisdictions to implement the Text to 9-1-1 service in so many areas of our county. We all recognize the importance of making this service available,” said Heather Plamondon, County 9-1-1 Communications Director. “In certain situations, texting for help can save lives. We encourage all residents to learn more about when it is appropriate to use this service and how to use it.”
“Text to 9-1-1 provides an additional avenue for residents and visitors of San José to request emergency services when they're unable to make a voice call,” said San José Fire Department Chief Robert Sapien, Jr.
How do you text to 9-1-1?
- Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field;
- The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include the address and the location of the emergency, and ask for police, fire or ambulance;
- Push the “Send” button;
- Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 dispatcher;
- Text in simple words – no abbreviations or slang;
- Keep text messages short.
At the County 9-1-1 Communications Department, emergency calls are received through an automated call distribution system that sends calls to the next available dispatcher. The Text to 9-1-1 messages will enter through the automated call system. All County 9-1-1 Communications dispatchers are trained on the Text to 9-1-1 service. The County operates a consolidated (law, fire and medical) emergency communications center that is staffed by 130 employees, including 80 dispatchers who answer approximately 45,562 calls per month, 62 calls per hour, 1,497 calls in a 24-hour period (491 of them considered urgent or emergency calls), and 546,750 calls per year.
Dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency is still the preferred way to request help, and the public is reminded to “Call if you can. Text if you can’t.” Texting is not always ideal because it takes longer than a voice call and does not provide the location of the texter. The Text to 9-1-1 function is available in English only. Individuals who do not speak English would need to call 9-1-1, and an interpreter will provide assistance in their language.
For more information on Text to 9-1-1, visit sccgov.org/textto911.
About County 9-1-1 Communications Department
The County 9-1-1 Communications Department operates a consolidated (law, fire and medical) emergency communications center. County dispatchers are responsible for answering “9-1-1” and “Non-Emergency” calls for service in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, and the contract cities of Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos Hills. They provide advanced pre-arrival instructions to callers in distress, and process emergency medical service calls for several contract cities throughout the county.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency rely on County 9-1-1 Communications as their primary dispatch center. It is also the regional coordinator for mutual aid, and acts as a backup to all other 9-1-1 centers in the county. The Department has been recognized by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch as an Accredited Center of Excellence in Emergency Medical Dispatching since 2002, by providing callers reporting a medical emergency with appropriate physician-approved medical instruction while help is on the way.
About the County of Santa Clara, California
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, the sixth largest county in California. With a $8.17 billion budget, more than 70 agencies/departments and nearly 22,000 employees, the County of Santa Clara plans for the needs of a dynamic community, offers quality services, and promotes a healthy, safe and prosperous community for all. The County provides essential services, including public health and environmental protection; behavioral health and medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System including Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (Hospital and Clinics), O’Connor Hospital and Saint Louise Regional Hospital; child and adult protection services; homelessness prevention and solutions; roads, parks and libraries; emergency response to disasters; protection of minority communities and those under threat; access to a fair criminal justice system, and scores of other services, particularly for those members of our community in the greatest need.
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Media Contact: Laurel Anderson/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119.
Posted: September 25, 2019.