The Rawlins Police Department now offers a 911 text service, which may help when people are unable to speak during emergency situations.

RAWLINS – Carbon County residents needing emergency services are now able to text their situation to dispatchers at the Rawlins Police Department, according to a RPD press release.

The RPD announced that they are now offering Text-to-911 services for Carbon County through the newest technology. Implementation for Verizon Wireless, Union Wireless and Sprint was completed on Friday. T-Mobile and AT&T customers should expect implementation in the near future.

The department says they are happy to provide another potentially lifesaving technology to Carbon County residents.

Text-to-911 is intended primarily for use in specific emergency scenarios:

n For an individual who is speech, or hearing, impaired.

n For a person who is unable to call 911 due to a medical emergency that renders them unable to speak.

n In the event of a crime such as a home invasion where speaking might give away the location of a person hiding, or in an abduction situation; or,

n In domestic violence situations where it’s not safe to make a voice call.

When determining whether to make voice call or send a text keep the following in mind:

n Callers should text 911 only when calling is not an option.

n Texting is not always instantaneous, which means it may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text-to-911 situation.

n Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the Rawlins Police Department Communications Center may not receive location information and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text. Text abbreviations or slang should never be used to that the intent of the message can be as clear as possible.

n Those who use the system must have a cell phone that is activated and capable of sending text messages in order to reach 911 via text. There is no charge to the customer for sending a text to 911.

There are some drawbacks to using text-to-911 which county residents must be aware of and keep in mind. The National Emergency Numbering Association offered several information points which should be noted if you need to text 911:

n Text location information is not equal to current location technology. Although we do utilize Rapid SOS for voice 911 calls we are not yet certain of the accuracy and availability of this service with Text to 911.

n As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order, or may not be received.

n Text to 911 is not available if you are roaming.

n A text or data plan is required to place a text-to-911.

n If texting to 911 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting to 911 is not available and to contact 911 by other means.

n Photos may be sent using Sprint however Union and Verizon do not have this service available at this time.

n It is not safe to text and drive.

How to text 911 in an emergency:

n Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.

n The first text message to 911 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and the type of help needed.

n Push the “Send” button.

n Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.

n Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.

n Keep text messages brief and concise.

As added protection, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will require “bounce-back messages” be sent to your phone in case the text does not go through.

If you attempt to send a text to 911 where the service is unavailable, FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other text messages providers to send an automatic bounce-back message.

Consumers who receive this bounce-back message will be advised to contact emergency services by another means, such as making a voice call or using a telecommunications relay service (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability).

The bounce-back requirement is intended to inform consumers and minimize the risk of a consumer mistakenly believing that a text to 911 has been transmitted to the public safety answering point (PSAP) where the service is not available.

The department encourages anyone who has any further questions to please contact our agency. They are happy to provide further education on these services including a test scenario from your phone at a scheduled time.

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