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Milwaukee County residents can now text 911 for help in an emergency

911 texting: Some cities experimenting with call-free system
Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 15:51:49-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County is launching a Text-to-911 service that will allow county residents to text 911 for help in an emergency.

The new service allows residents near cell phone towers to text 911 if they are unable to make a voice call.

To text 911, residents should enter "911" into the "To" field and compose a short worded text message in the text message field, just like a normal text message. Officials say do not use abbreviations or jargon.

The first message should describe the location of emergency and the type of help needed. Uses should be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker after sending the first text.

Dispatchers can not receive pictures or videos through the text message service currently. In the future, however, the department anticipates next generation 911 technology will enable 911 call centers to receive photos and videos.

“Calling 911 remains the quickest and most efficient method to share information about an emergency, but the texting technology allows another option for individuals to contact emergency services in the event they cannot call,” said Office of Emergency Management Director Cassandra Libal. “Our number one goal is keeping residents healthy and safe, so we’re excited to provide another tool to meet the needs of County residents.”

According to officials, the service uses cell tower information to determine where a text is being sent from. Cell phones will connect to the closest tower and the tower location is sent to 911. Messages to 911 sent through a non-county cell phone tower will bounce back and not be submitted to 911 emergency services, because the Text-To-911 program is a county service.

Learn more about the service by clicking here.

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