• Memphis residents can soon text 911 in case of emergencies

    By: Leah Jordan

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis residents can soon text 911 in case of an emergency. Memphis is the first in all of Tennessee to implement a “Text-to-911” service.  

    FOX13 spoke to the director of the Shelby County 911 District, Raymond Chiozza. 

    He said Memphis police and fire dispatchers have spent the last few days in training sessions as they prepared for the service to launch.

    Memphis residents told FOX13 they’re glad the service is being offered.

    “If they can’t hear over the phone, it would be very helpful and they could just read,” said Mimmye Goode. 


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    Using the service is as simple as sending a text message. In the “to” field, you press 9-1-1. In the text message itself, briefly explain the emergency and include your exact address.

    “It’ll help teenagers and young adults that feel threatened or whatever,” said Chris Myers, a Memphis resident. 

    If you’re hard of hearing, have a speech disability, are experiencing a medical emergency where you can’t talk, or find it’s simply not safe to call for help, you would be a good candidate to use the service. 

    But Chiozza recommends using the Text-to-911 only if calling isn’t an option. 

    “The hearing-impaired community will really use this in an emergency,” Chiozza said. “Also, any citizen that may endanger themselves by speaking when needing the police may text,” he said. 

    The location technology for texting and calling is not identical, so with Text-to-911, people will need to be able to provide an exact location. 

    As of now, photos and videos are not accepted by 911. 

    Also, 911 can’t be a part of group texts. The service only accommodates English-speakers currently. 

    The remaining areas throughout Shelby County will be able to take part in this over the next 6-to-8 months, according to Chiozza. 

    Text-to-911 is for use in an emergency only. 

    Directors said if you accidentally send a message to 911, send a reply telling dispatchers that you have made a mistake as soon as possible. Intentional misuse of 9-1-1 is a punishable offense, they added.

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