9-1-1 Emergency Texting Now Available in San Bernardino County

BIG BEAR, CA/– Hearing and speech-impaired members of the community, or those in a situation where it is too dangerous to dial 9-1-1, now have another option to call for help in an emergency, Text-to-9-1-1. “Call if you can – text if you can’t” is the slogan developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the new technology makes its debut in parts of California.

San Bernardino County Fire and Sheriff’s Departments, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and State Emergency Communications 9-1-1 officials announced that local San Bernardino County law enforcement agencies and fire agencies Public Safety 9-1-1 Centers (dispatch) will be equipped to receive and respond to mobile phone Text-to-9-1-1 messages. This service is available for use by the deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, and in situations where it is too dangerous to make a voice call to 9-1-1. All phones or devices must include a text or data plan to send a Text-to-9-1-1.

Public safety agencies have known for some time that this technology was coming. It is great to now see it come to fruition, giving the public another option to call for help when they need. San Bernardino County Dispatch Centers are trained and ready to assist callers who, for whatever reason, are unable to call 9-1-1. While the technology is still evolving, it another tool to help those who are often the most vulnerable in our communities if they cannot call 9-1-1.

This announcement comes after the nation’s four largest wireless service providers, AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, in cooperation with the FCC, National Emergency Number Association, and the Association of Public Safety Officials agreed in 2012 to provide Text-to-9-1-1 as a nationwide interim solution until the Next Generation of 9-1-1 is deployed. 

The benefits to consumers are significant, especially in cases when the caller cannot communicate verbally. Examples include not only the hearing-impaired, but also when a crime is in process or the caller is injured and cannot speak.

Here are the FCC guidelines for how to contact 9-1-1. If you use a wireless phone or other type of mobile device, make sure to do the following in an emergency:

  • If you can, always contact 9-1-1 by making a voice call, “Call if you can – text if you can’t.”
  • For the deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled, and Text-to-9-1-1 is not available, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if available.
  • If texting is not available in your area, and after texting to 9-1-1, a bounce-back message will be sent advising “text is not available please make a voice call to 9-1-1.”
  • Location accuracy varies by carrier and should not be relied upon. Although not required, putting your location in the message can be helpful.Text-to-9-1-1 does not allow forthe caller to disconnect the call. Therefore, in an emergency situation, the mobile phone will be tracked and located to a satisfactory resolution of the dispatch center.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 is not available when roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-9-1-1.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1.
  • Text messages should be sent in plain language and not contain abbreviations.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 cannot be sent to more than one person. Do not send emergency textsto anyone other than 9-1-1.
  • Text must be in English only. There is no language interpretation for text available.

For additional information, please contact Big Bear Fire Department at www.bigbearfire.org or (909) 866-7566.

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About Big Bear Fire Department:

Big Bear Fire Authority was formed under a Joint Powers Agreement in 2012 combining BigBear Lake Fire Protection District and Big Bear City Fire Department, now commonly known as Big Bear Fire Department. Since its inception,the Big Bear Fire Department is committedto providing Big Bear Valley with professional fire, medical and emergency services “Protecting Lives and Property,” with timely response to fire and medical emergencies.

Contact:​ Dawn Marschinke
Big Bear Fire Department
41090 Big Bear Blvd.
P.O. Box 2830
Big Bear Lake, Calif. 92315
Phone:​ 909-866-7566 x224
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Big Bear Fire Department
41090 Big Bear Blvd.
PO Box 2830
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
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