ST. PAUL — If you need to reach 911, don’t text, make a phone call or use a relay service. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) is reminding residents that the technology to text 911 is not yet operational in most of the country, including Minnesota.
To reinforce this important public safety situation, four cell phone carriers will begin providing text-to-911 “bounce-back” messages July 1.
• AT & T
• Sprint Nextel
• Verizon Communications
The message will appear immediately after a cell phone user attempts to text 911. It will inform the consumer that text-to-911 service is not supported and to contact emergency services by another means.
While these carriers have voluntarily agreed to begin sending automatic bounce-back text messages July 1, the Federal Communications Commission will require all wireless carriers and text messaging providers to begin the practice by Sept. 30.
“ These important bounce-back messages will let the consumer know their text has not reached 911 and must make a voice call or use a telecommunications relay service if they are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled,” said Dana Wahlberg, ECN 911 Program Manager.
ECN supports the bounce-back messages to help protect the public from mistakenly believing 911 authorities have received their text for help.
Minnesota is among the states leading the way to Next Generation 911 systems that will eventually allow for 911 texting. The Federal Communications Commission expects nationwide ability to text to 911 by May 15, 2014.
Consumers will always be encouraged to make a voice call for 911 for assistance but, for some people, text-to-911 will be invaluable when it becomes available. It can be a life-saving option for those who are unable to make a voice call due to a hearing or speech disability or because a voice call to 911 would place them in danger. In addition, a text message may be the most reliable means of communication during major disasters where voice calls cannot be completed due to network capacity constraints.
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Division of Emergency Communication Networks
The Division of Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) funds, promotes and implements reliable and secure interoperable emergency communication network solutions for public safety. ECN is an innovate leader, fostering collaboration and partnerships for public safety communication in Minnesota and nationwide.
• Collect and distribute 911 fees according to statute
• Provide technical support and assistance to counties and local units of government for 911 and Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Responders (ARMER) radio systems
• Manage grants to local units of government to assist with costs to support 911 and the migration to Next Generation 911 (NG911) and ARMER
• Reviews and monitors telecommunications 911 plans and 911 network compliance