Text to 911

Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2017 Published: Monday, 18 September 2017

In 2017, Dickinson County 911 completed a series of upgrades to our 911 system and began accepting text messages to 911. Currently customers of Verizon, US Cellular, Sprint, and AT&T are able to send text messages to 911 in Dickinson County. Other carriers have until mid-November to complete testing and be able to provide text messaging to Dickinson County 911.

Why would I want to use Text to 911?

Using Text-to-911 in an emergency might be helpful if you are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or if making a voice call to 911 might be dangerous or not possible. However, if you are able to make a voice call to 911 and it is safe to do so, you should call instead of sending a text. Voice calls are usually the fastest, most efficient way to reach emergency help.

If I send a text to 911, will the dispatcher automatically know my location?

No. Texting 911 is different than making a voice call. When you call 911 from a mobile phone, we usually receive your phone number and your approximate location automatically. If you text to 911, the call taker may not receive your phone number or location. So regardless if you text or call 911, make sure you know your location and be ready to quickly provide that to the dispatcher.

Do I need a texting plan to send a text message to 911?

Yes. While all wireless phones have the capability to dial 911, you can only text to 911 if you use a cell phone that has an active texting plan. Your mobile carrier's regular texting rates will apply.

How do I send a text to 911?

Simply type "911" in the "To" field of a new text message. Be sure to provide your location as soon as possible along with a short description of the emergency. Use simple words and do not use abbreviations, slang or emoticons. Do not text while driving and do not send a text to 911 that is a part of a group text.

Additionally...

We can not accept photos or videos via text message. If you send a message in an area where Text-to-911 isn't available, you'll receive a bounce-back message stating that the service isn't available and that you should call 911 instead.

NEVER text 911 just to see if it's working. It is illegal in Iowa to call OR text 911 if there is not an emergency. Doing so ties up our resources and it could hinder our ability to provide emergency services to someone who actually needs them.

Text to 911 is not available in all areas. If you try texting 911 in an area where this service is not available, you will receive a message back stating to call 911 instead.

For more information, visit the State of Iowa 911 website.