HELPING THOSE UNABLE TO SPEAK: TEXT 911 SERVICE EXPANDS TO ALL MAJOR CARRIERS

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Cellphone TextingIf you need help in an emergency and cannot speak for any reason, you can now text 911 on all major wireless carriers anywhere in the City of Allentown as part of the TEXT to 9-1-1 initiative.

Back in April, Allentown became one of less than 100 911 Emergency Communication Centers in the country to provide Verizon Wireless customers an interim solution for emergency help when a person is unable to make a 911 voice call by sending a text message to the 911 emergency number.  Service for T-Mobile customers was added in early June. With the successful deployment of Text to 9-1-1 services with AT&T and Sprint, all customers of the four major wireless carriers within the city are now able to utilize this potentially lifesaving service.

“I’m very proud of the team at our 9-1-1 Communications Center for their diligent work on this project,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “Enhancing our public safety service is certainly a great benefit for the citizens, visitors and first responders of the city.”

“I am happy to see that the Text to 9-1-1 services we have deployed are being successfully used by our citizens to request emergency assistance,” said Superintendent of Communication Michael Hilbert. “The inclusion of Text to 9-1-1 service for all major wireless carriers will now allow the majority of our citizens and visitors access to the public safety services of the city of Allentown when they are unable to make a voice call to 9-1-1.”

The Allentown 9-1-1 Center will now be working with the other wireless carriers operating in our area to provide Text to 9-1-1 service to their customers by the end of 2014.

Text to 911 is intended primarily for use in two emergency scenarios:

o For an individual who is speech or hearing impaired

o For a person who is unable to make a voice call, for example during a medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech, or in the instance of a home invasion, domestic violence, or abduction.

Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is NOT an option.
Users should call if they can and text if they can’t speak.   Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help.  One must remember that texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text to 911 situation because of the extra time necessary to process a text message.

In case you are in an emergency situation where you need to text, it is imperative that you immediately provide an exact location and the nature of the emergency in a short, precise message.  Remember that text messages sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages, and that you should not send pictures, videos or any other attachments.

Do not use text abbreviations or slang so that the intent of the emergency message is as clear as possible.

The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services.

Non-emergency issues should still be communicated to the Allentown Communications Center through its non-emergency line at (610) 437-7751.