Text-to-9-1-1 option available in South Dakota
PIERRE, S.D. – Text-to-9-1-1 is now available throughout South Dakota.
Wireless cell phone customers in South Dakota can text to 9-1-1 when they can’t call in an emergency. The text, like a phone call, will be routed to a local 9-1-1 dispatch center.
“Text-to-9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency when you can’t call 9-1-1,” said Craig Price, cabinet secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. “The Text-to-9-1-1 option would be good to use if speaking out loud would put the caller in danger or if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired.”
Dispatchers say that texting during an emergency should should only be used as a last resort and that a phone call is always your best option.
Text-to-9-1-1 is not yet 100% activated in Todd County. People texting 9-1-1 in that county will receive a message stating that text service is unavailable and they will be directed to make a 9-1-1 call instead.
“It’s been ingrained in us since grade school all of us that you call 9-1-1 in an emergency and actually that’s what we prefer. We really…if we have a choice, we always want to talk to you, because texting is actually a poor way to communicate,” said Ted Rufledt, Pennington County 911 Dept. Director of Technology.
People who are unable to call 9-1-1, should remember these steps about Text to 9-1-1:
- Don’t text and drive.
- In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
- Text in simple words; keep the text message short without the use of abbreviations or slang.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
- Voice calls to 9-1-1 are still the best and fastest way to contact 9-1-1.
- Call 9-1-1 if you can, text if you can’t.
For more information on the Text to 9-1-1 program in South Dakota, visit text911sd.com.