Press "Enter" to skip to content

Citizens in Whatcom County can now use text messages to contact 911

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — A new feature enabling cellular phone users to text message What-Comm 911 call-receivers is now available to residents in Whatcom County. 

Text-to-911 is a vital service intended for use by those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who may have a speech difference. For individuals with any of these conditions placing a phone call to 911 was, in the past, either difficult or not an option.

Text-to-911 will also work for someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 911, as well as someone who finds themselves in a medical emergency which renders them incapable of speech but able to text. The fourth option for Text-to-911 is if the cellular phone user is in a location where cell coverage is spotty, however a text would go through.

What-Comm Emergency Communications Press Release (June 24, 2021)

The service feature, referred to as “Text-to-911,” became available this month according to a press release from What-Comm Emergency Communications Supervisor Justin Rasmussen today, June 24th.

Advertisement

Click for more information
Advertisement

Click for more information

The press release provided some advice on how to best use the service.

  • You must have a text or data plan for your cell phone to place a Text-to-911 message
  • Enter “911” into the “to” or “recipient” field
  • The first message should be location and type of help needed, for instance, “1234 Main Street, Bellingham, need ambulance for injury”
  • Press “send” and stay with your phone
  • Be prepared to answer questions, via text, use full words, keep messages concise
  • Follow instructions from the 911 operator.

What-Comm 911 is not equipped to receive photos, videos or linked text via Text-to-911.

Officials note that Text-to-911 is not yet available in all counties. Attempts to send a text to 911 from a wireless carrier in a location without Text-to-911 capabilities will result in a message saying there no such service available and to make a voice call to 911.

The Federal Communications Commission has been encouraging call centers across the country to utilize Text-to-911 but advises “because voice calls to 911 provide more information to 911 call centers, you should always make a voice call to 911 during an emergency whenever possible.”

Advertisement
Click for more information

Advertisement
Click for more information

My custom footer text