The new service is available to anyone within the service area of Maryland.
You now have another way to get help during an emergency in Maryland. On August 20, 2020, a Text-to-911 service was activated across the state. The new service was funded in 2018 and will allow anyone with cell phone service on the major carriers to text a 9-1-1 operator for help. Text-to-911 was created to help people who are hearing- and speech-impaired to quickly and easily contact first responders in an emergency. The service could also help in situations where making a voice call could be dangerous.
The 9-1-1 text service was created by an Annapolis company called TeleCommunications Systems. A $2.4 million contract was approved by Maryland's Public Works board back in 2018 and was first tested in Frederick County. The Text-to-911 service will work on phones with service through AT&T, T-Mobile (Sprint) and Verizon.
Courtesy Anne Arundel Police Department
To use Text-to-911, type in your message of emergency and put 9-1-1 in the “To” field. A 911 operator will respond back and help you with your emergency. Officials warn there may be delays using the new system, and the text option might not be as fast as regular 911. You cannot send images or videos and should not use abbreviations or emojis.
In addition to helping the hearing impaired, the text upgrade reflects changes in the types of phones people use on a daily basis. A study by The National Interest found only 6.5 percent of U.S. households still have a landline, and according to the FCC, more than 70 percent of 9-1-1 calls come from mobile telephones. Mobile phones allow people to call for help in times and places once not feasible. Now people will be able to get help through the modern method of texting.