On Friday, August 8, 2014, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) voted to require 9-1-1 centers to be able to receive text messages by June 30, 2015. The major cell providers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have provided the capability, for customers in areas where their 9-1-1 centers can receive text messages, to send a 9-1-1 text since 2012. Other providers have until December 31, 2014, to make this feature available. However, there are currently only about 120 (out of 6800) PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points, i.e. 9-1-1 centers) in the entire United States able to accept them. The FCC has a list of agencies that can, here. You’ll notice California is absent.
There is nowhere in California, including Visalia or Tulare County, where you can text to 9-1-1. If you need emergency services, you’ll need to make a voice call for the foreseeable future. Don’t assume you can text to 9-1-1 just because you heard a news report about it. It’s a very limited capability right now.
Here’s what an AT&T customer in Visalia will see if they attempt to text to 9-1-1:
Eventually you’ll be able to text to 9-1-1, but not yet.
Disclaimer – as usual, this post does not reflect the official position of any 9-1-1 center or government body.