Don’t Text 911; You’ll Get This Message

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(credit: CBS)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you’ve ever tried texting a 911 call in Minnesota, you probably didn’t get a response. Now the state’s four major service carriers are doing something about it.

“They could’ve texted blindly and sat back and waited, or ultimately determined that it didn’t go through,” said Dana Wahlberg, Minnesota’s 911 Program Manager.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have committed to sending an automated reply instructing senders to make a voice call. The message says: “Make a voice call to 911 for help. Text to 911 is not available”. Wahlberg believes it’s essential for public safety.

“We’re happy to see people are now going to get a bounce-back message,so they know they’re request wasn’t received,” Wahlberg said.
In May of 2014, the Federal Communications Commission will require all states to make the texting option available.

“It will be a wonderful new feature for those who are hearing impaired or speech impaired that don’t have the ability to place a voice call,” Wahlberg said.

She added: “And, eventually, this maybe a viable alternative to someone who is in danger and cannot speak or in times of natural disaster when the network may be filled to capacity with voice calls.”

Until then, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety urges people not to text and just call.

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