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9/1/16  -  NEW SERVICE AVAILABLE: Text to 9-1-1

The City’s Bureau of Emergency Communications, along with 911 centers in Clackamas County, Clark County, Clatsop County, Columbia County, Marion County, and Washington County have recently implemented a text to 911 service.

Text to 911 is intended to benefit those individuals that may not be able to speak due to an emergency such as a home invasion or abusive partner, as well as individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities.

Like other 911 calls, Text to 911 should be used only for in progress emergencies: those requiring immediate response from Police, Fire and/or EMS. If the situation is not an emergency requiring immediate response you should call the public safety non-emergency line (503) 823-3333. During normal business hours, you can also call the City and County information and referral number, (503) 823-4000.

The same people who answer 9-1-1 voice calls are also the same people who will answer text to 9-1-1 calls and the non-emergency lines.

To use Text to 911 to report an emergency, you simply open up your text messaging screen, enter “911” (with no dashes or spaces) in the “TO” field, type your message, and hit “SEND”.

Do NOT send your message to multiple people in a group text, because this will stop the message from reaching a 911 Center.

If you are within an area that does NOT yet offer text to 911 services, you will receive a return message that states services are not available. If that happens, place a voice call to 911 to report your emergency.

There are a number of limitations with this system you should be aware of:

  1. Location inaccuracies. It is critical that you KNOW YOUR LOCATION. Many people assume that exact location coordinates are automatically sent to 9-1-1 Centers. While this may be true for most wireline phones, 9-1-1 centers cannot always identify your location if you’re contacting us from a cell phone, and location accuracy is even worse for texting than it is for voice calls.  So, just like when you voice call 911 from a cell phone, you need to be able to describe where you are so we can send you help.  
  2. If a Text to 911 is misrouted, Portland area 911 Centers have the ability to transfer Text to 911 calls between Centers. BOEC will not be able to transfer Text to 911 calls to outside service providers such as crisis lines.
  3. Text to 911 can only receive words and punctuation. Text to 911 CANNOT receive emoticons, emoji, pictures or videos. Also, your message may not be interpreted correctly if you use “text speak” or abbreviations. Examples of these types of abbreviations are:  “TTYL”, “SMH”, or “AFK”.
  4. Please text in English only.  At this time, language interpreting service isn’t available for Text to 911.  911 dispatchers will do their best to assist you if you aren’t able to text in English.

Additional features will become available in the future, but for now the interim solution offers only basic text to 9-1-1.

Text to 911 service should not raise your wireless bill. It’s funded by an existing fee that is already included in your phone service fees.

REMEMBER CALL IF YOU CAN, TEXT IF YOU CAN’T