You can now text 911 during an emergency in Clearwater County

Clearwater County residents can now send text messages to 911 if they are unable to make a 911 voice call.

This new service is available to customers of Inland Cellular and Verizon Wireless. As of now, AT&T and T-Mobile are in the process of installing the right facilities needed for Text-to-911 and should be accessable later this year.

Text-to-911 is not a replacement for calling 911, but instead an enhancement to emergency services in certain situations. Some of the examples would be if the caller is hearing/voice impaired, speaking out loud would put the caller in danger and if service for calling is unavailable.

The Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office wants residents to keep in mind the following when using Text-to-911:

Customers should use the texting option only when calling 911 is not an option.
Using a phone to call 911 is still the most efficient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous, which is critical during a life-threatening emergency. It may take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services in a text-to-911 situation because of the time involved: Someone must enter the text; the message must go over the network and the 911 Dispatcher must read the text and then text back.
Providing detailed and exact location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since Clearwater County 911 will initially only receive the location of the cell phone tower closest to the call’s origin.
Text abbreviations, emoticons or slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialogue can be as clear as possible.
Customers must be in range of cell towers in Clearwater County. If customers are outside or near the edge of the county, the message may not reach Clearwater County 911.
Texts to 911 from areas where the service is not available will receive a “Bounce Back” message explaining that Text-to-911 is not available in that area, and to make a voice 911 call.
Roaming cellphones will not be able to send texts to 911 and will receive the “Bounce Back” message, as text-to-911 works on native towers only.
Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages.
Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text-to-911 capabilities.
Wireless customers must have mobile phones that are capable of sending text messages. The solution is available for customers who use the native SMS provided by wireless carriers. Customers should consult their over- the-top (OTT) messaging provider to determine if and how text-to-911 is provided by the OTT application.
The texting function should only be used for emergency situations that require an immediate response from police, fire or emergency medical services. For non-emergency situations, customers should contact their local public safety agency via a 10-digit non-emergency number: (208) 476-4521
Out-of-Service cellphones will not be able to Text-to-911; there must be an active data plan for Text-to-911 to work.
Do not joke around. If you text to 911, responders will be dispatched.
Text-to-911 should only be used to communicate between emergency help and the texter. No pictures, video, other attachments, or other recipients can be appended to the message.

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