D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser helped launch Text to 911 in the District. The service allows residents to request emergency services through texting.

It’s meant to improve accessibility for residents who are unable to call 911, though the administration is emphasizing that residents should continue to call 911 when possible.

The mayor was joined by the director of the Office of United Communications, Karima Holmes, and the Fire and Emergency Medical Services fire chief, Gregory Dean.

“Text to 911 gives people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a speech disability as well as those who could be put in more danger by calling 911 an immediate connection to emergency services,” said Mayor Bowser. “Text to 911 is the latest example of how we are using every resource possible to make Washington, DC safer and stronger for all residents.”

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Text to 911 requires a smartphone that is capable of sending text messages and has location services enabled. The messages themselves must be “brief, easily understood, and in plain English” – that means text lingo, abbreviations and slang won’t cut it.

Examples of when it would be appropriate to text 911 include:

  • If a person is the victim of a crime and the perpetrator is still in the area, such as an assault, robbery, or a domestic violence incident.
  • When people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a speech disability need to reach 911.
  • In situations where a person has sustained an injury that prevents him/her from speaking.

“Text to 911 represents another step as our system evolves to Next Generation 911,” said Holmes, referring to an effort to modernize 911 systems nationwide. “Washington, D.C., is on the forefront of offering the best technological solutions, and we are doing so in a way that enhances public safety and, ultimately, residents’ quality of life.”

In Washington, D.C., 911 operators answer between 3,500 and 4,200 emergency calls each day, and in just the first half of 2017, OUC has already received 60,000 more 911 calls than this time last year.

Text to 911 is part of Back to Basics DC, a celebration of the day-to-day work that keeps Washington, DC moving forward. Follow Back to Basics DC on social media using #backtobasicsDC.

Click here to learn more about the program.

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