KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Some cellular phone customers can now send text messages to Kingsport 911.
The police department announced Wednesday the service is now available to AT&T Wireless customers.
Other carriers, such as Verizon and T-Mobile, are expected to enable this service in the near future.
The police department says calling is still the preferred method for contacting 911. Just like when calling 911, text messages should only sent for true emergencies. Non-emergency calls should be made to central dispatch at the phone number 423-246-9111, which cannot receive text messages.
Those who send texts to 911 are encouraged to provide the following information:
- Your name
- Your location (specific address, intersection, or mile-marker)
- The particular type of emergency you are experiencing (medical, fire, crime in progress, etc.)
- Your telephone number (just in case the Caller ID feature were to fail to provide it)
The police department says if you text 911, you should prepare to receive follow-up text messages from a dispatcher.
Police also say you should have a backup plan in case your text doesn’t go through. If your text goes to a neighboring dispatch center that isn’t capable of receiving text messages, you should receive a “bounce-back” notification instructing you to call 911 instead. If you text 911 and don’t receive a response, you should assume your message did not go through.
The police department also provided the following information:
- Emojis, ideograms, smileys, and GIFs should never be used
- Text shorthand (TTYL, IIRC, IMHO, etc.) should never be used
- Pictures and videos are not compatible with Text to 911 at this time, but they might be added at a later date
- Messages need to be clear, concise, and written in plain and simple, easy to understand language