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In early 2014, The Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications became the sixth public safety answering point in New York State to deploy text-to-911service.

Text-to-911is the ability to send a text message to reach 9-1-1 call takers from your mobile phone or device. Text-to-911 is designed as an alternate means to contact
9-1-1 in situations where it is dangerous or impossible to place a voice call. Text-to-911 is intended primarily for use in two emergency scenarios: for those individuals who are hearing or speech impaired and for those unable to make a voice call (e.g., a medical emergency renders an individual unable to speak, during a home invasion or abduction). Using a phone to call 9-1-1 is the most efficient way to reach emergency help.

How to Contact 9-1-1

  • Always contact 9-1-1 by making a call if you can. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, use a TTY or telecommunications relay service, if possible. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the Communications Center will receive only an approximate location of the cell phone, and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text.  Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
  • In the number field enter 911 and in the body of the text state the nature of the emergency and location before pressing send. Texters must send exacting location information otherwise only very coarse location information is available to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator. Texts sent to 9-1-1 have the same 160 character limit as other text messages.
  • You must be within range of a cell tower serving Onondaga County; you must have a text plan; and your wireless carrier must provide text-to-911 service in this area. If text-to-911 is not supported in this area by your carrier, you should receive a “bounce back” text message letting you know that their message was unable to be sent.
  • Finally always remember text messages should only be used to communicate between the 911 Center and the sender.  Pictures, video, other attachments or including other recipients are not able to be accommodated.

We are pleased to announce that at the present time this service is available locally through the four major wireless service providers:

  • Verizon Wireless
  • Sprint
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile

Onondaga County 9-1-1 Center
3911 Central Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13215

Ph. 315-435-7911

Member: Central NY Interoperable Communications Consortium

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