Rescue Lines – Summer 2015 – Texting 911 in Va. Beach

TextingMulti-modal communication is vital in this day and age, and the City of Virginia Beach is the first in South Hampton Roads to make the life-saving adjustment.

Recent developments now allow residents and visitors in emergency situations who are unable to hear or speak, or who are not in a safe situation to speak, to send text messages to 911 instead of having to call. Calling, however, is much preferred by dispatchers if you are able to do so because more information is relayed on a phone call than through texts.

To reach dispatchers, the numbers 9-1-1 are entered into the cell phone where the number dialed would normally be typed. Officials state that an emergency text message to 911 should include the location and a brief description of the situation, but the message can only contain 160 characters.

“We are happy to be the first city in Hampton Roads to implement this program,” says Va. Beach Dept. of EMS Division Chief Ed Brazle. “We hope it will allow us react quickly to emergency situations in which the individual in need of help cannot place a phone call.”