Text to 911 now available in Highlands County

SEBRING -- The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Consolidated Central Dispatch Center is pleased to announce that text to 911 is now available in Highlands County.

The service works with all carriers, although the phone must have an active data or text plan.

“Text to 911 is a valuable service we have been working on getting in place for a while,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “It is important for our citizens to have options when they need to ask for help.”

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

  • For an individual who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, or has a speech disability;
  • For someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 911 (domestic abuse, abduction, active shooter, etc.);
  • A medical emergency that renders that person incapable of speech.

“The first option should still be to call 911 in an emergency, but being able to text when you can’t call has the potential to be a true life-saver,” Sheriff Blackman said.

To use the service, enter 911 in to “To:” field of your text message, type your message and press send. A dispatcher will respond to the message as quickly as possible. If the service is down for any reason, you will get a message to that effect.

Please make sure your first message has your location and the nature of the emergency as well as what kind of help you need. Keep messages short and concise and do not use abbreviations or emojis. The service also does not support sending videos or photos at this time. You also can’t group message 911.

It is important to remember that you must use your phone’s built-in texting platform, and not a third-party app.

2018 Text Logo 1Image courtesy of National Emergency Number Association (NENA)